Insects Be Gone!

Written by: Phyllis Ho

Now that summer is here, more and more insects are buzzing around. There’s nothing worse than coming home from a nice hike and realizing that you’ve been an unsuspecting feast for the mosquitoes. Not only are mosquito bites annoying and irritating, but mosquitoes spread viruses and disease. There are things that you can do to be less attractive to mosquitoes, such as wearing lighter clothing (they are attracted to darker colours), drying off your sweat, and making sure not to get too warm (they are attracted to the scent of sweat and body heat).

Products such as DEET are effective at repelling insects, but they contain chemicals many of which are toxic to the human body. Many of them recommend washing hands thoroughly immediately after handling the product. In my search for a more natural way of repelling mosquitoes, I came up with the following methods:

A mosquito

A pesky mosquito!

Insect DEFEND Patch

The Insect DEFEND Patch is a stick on patch purported to be effective within 2 hours of wear, with effects that last for up to 24 hours. The active ingredient in the patch is thiamine (vitamin B1), which is released from the pores through sweat glands. The patch is effective even during and after bathing or swimming. User reviews are generally positive, with most users reporting that the patch appears to be more effective for mosquitoes than black flies, but that bites experienced were greatly reduced. Most users also report that you will emit an odour when wearing the patch and possibly a couple of days after, but for a product that really works and is non toxic this might be a price you’re willing to pay.

Off! Clip On

Off! Clip On is a product that works by dispersing insect repellent into the air through a fan, thus creating a mosquito free zone around you. For people who don’t want to use chemicals at all (pregnant women or people with allergies and sensitivities) this device will not suit your needs. The repellent is odour free and is not sprayed directly on the skin, but there’s more than a good chance that you will inhale some of the product. Also, the instructions indicate that you need to wait a few minutes for the unit to create an area of mosquito protection, so for anyone who’s hiking or running, this unit won’t work. It might work well if you are stopping for a picnic at the top of the mountain though.

Bounce! sheets

I was told by a few people that Bounce! dryer sheets are good at keeping mosquitoes away. A friend said that he had been told by a park ranger that they were her go-to solution – she would just tie a sheet to her shirt and off she’d go. I was quite excited about this since those sheets are quite cheap and the scent lasts for a long time so you wouldn’t have to change them everyday, and they must be less toxic than harsh insect repellents. I tested this method out on a few summer nights out on the water though and I’m sad to say this did not work for me in the slightest. If you have some of these lying around though it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot – let us know how it works for you!

Vitamin B Pills

This is the solution I settled on after deciding that I was too cheap to buy the Insect Defend Patch, considering that if you are going to be outdoors a lot in the summer you will have to replace the patch every day. Since the main ingredient is Vitamin B1, I just went out and bought a bottle of Vitamin B1 pills. Note, however, that you cannot simply take a whole bunch of B1’s and hope that they seep through your pores. Your body can’t absorb enough B1 for you to emit enough to keep bugs away, and will probably just pass out what isn’t needed. Not to mention the fact that you probably shouldn’t take more than the recommended dosage. You would also have to wait for it to pass through your system before it was effective, if it was at all.

What I did was take about 3 B1 tablets, crush them (or you could buy pills and open them and take out the powder) and mix it in about a cup of water. Not all of the pills dissolved so you could probably get away with less, but I wanted to make sure to saturate the solution for maximum effect. Then I just put it in a spray bottle, and sprayed liberally all over my skin, rubbed in a bit and let dry.

This method really worked. You will definitely smell like Vitamin B1 pills, but it’s really cost effective (3 pills lasted me all summer), and I had no qualms about rubbing it all over, including my face and on children, unlike other dangerous chemical based repellents. It will also start working as soon as it’s been applied. This method worked so well for me that I have stopped trying all other methods. Make sure to reapply though if you have been sweating lots or go swimming.


Mosquitoes love it here!

Are there any natural solutions that you have for repelling mosquitoes? Tell us in the comments below!

7 responses to “Insects Be Gone!”

  1. Connie says:

    Hi Phyllis,

    Can you tell me the ratio of vit b1 pills to water to mix? And is there a specific brand that works better than others? Thanks!

    • Phyllis Ho says:

      I didn’t try different brands! I went to my local health food store and bought the kind they had that was in tablets, it happened to be natural factors. It would probably be even easier if you could find gel caplets so you don’t have to bash them up. I used about 2 100mg tablets for 1 cup of water… I just tried to dissolve as much of it in the water as I could, until it was saturated (there will be some powder left on the bottom). When I spray, I use a lot, making sure to cover everything, and I’m able to smell it afterwards. Good luck, hope it works!

  2. Rich Mark says:

    Another thing you can do is to grow the plant pennyroyal in your garden. To use as a natural insect repellent – pull off a few leaves, crush them and rub them on exposed skin.

    If you are going on a hike, just take a handful of pennyroyal leave with you in your pocket, to use along the way. More here:

  3. Andrea says:

    Great advice on the B1 supp. I will definitely be trying that one this week during camp.

    • Phyllis Ho says:

      That’s great, make sure to really saturate the solution! I’m able to smell it on myself when I’m done spraying and drying off. Hope it works! 🙂

  4. Steve says:

    I have tried most types of repellent, working 400km north of Fort St James mining, where bugs are Terrible!. Citronella – Doesn’t work. Deet – Works best for immediate protection. Bounce sheet – ATTRACT bugs, DO NOT USE BOUNCE SHEETS!!!. The number one protection but takes a day or two to get full effect is Eat Garlic and lots of it, you will repel people as well, but it works the absolute BEST!

  5. Lori says:

    Love this article…I’m taking B1 orally and it’s not making a difference however, I will try crushing them and using the spray bottle. Yesterday at Three Brother’s I was spraying Off on and they were landing on me and still biting. It was crazy…

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