Is it time for your Caribbean vacation, but you’re worried about Zika, Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and other mosquito borne diseases?
Mosquitoes in the Caribbean
It’s no secret that the tropical destinations in the Caribbean are under attack by mosquitoes. Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya and Malaria are some of the more popular mosquito borne diseases that have recorded increased cases in recent months. The aedes aegypti mosquito, the carrier of many of these diseases, is probably the most dangerous mosquito species that exists. One bite from one of these little creatures, with their annoying buzzing, can turn a healthy person into a shadow of themselves. And it seems as though no one is being spared from their wrath.
Mosquitoes breed in stagnant or standing water and really just need one ounce of water to lay their eggs successfully. Therefore, the challenge for most destinations is to reduce the breeding grounds for these critters. Many countries have launched clean up campaigns and have increased marketing efforts to educate residents and visitors about the mosquitoes and their diseases.
How to Avoid Mosquito Borne Diseases
The preferred method of dealing with these mosquitoes and mosquito borne diseases in the Caribbean is the use of chemicals. Insecticides are effective, but they are laced harmful toxins. Insect repellent for direct application to the skin and the use of mosquito nets have also been suggested. Large scale fogging has been introduced, but there has never been any concrete evidence of its effectiveness in the fight against mosquitoes.
Many people utilise the option of spraying their homes and rooms with an insecticide spray, but there is still the concern of mosquitoes in the public domain. Insect repellent is a practical option when traversing outside of your home. It can be applied directly to the skin and is believed to ward off mosquitoes. Although repellent is easy to use and readily available, the cost might be prohibitive.
There are other methods that can be used in the fight against mosquitoes. Mosquito bits, dunks, coils, granules, repellant bracelets*, outdoor citronella sticks, swatters, repellers* and zappers are some popular options.
Homemade Mosquito Repellents
A safer alternative to avoid mosquito borne diseases is to make your own insect repellent. Most of the repellents that I found, use a combination of easy to find oils and items that may be present in the home. I tweaked each recipe a bit, made suggestions on the costs and included directions for use. To make your repellent last longer, use dark bottles and store your mixture away from heat and sunlight. I have a friend who only uses citronella oil and olive to make her own mosquito repellent.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, nor do I profess to be one. Please consult with your medical practitioner before trying any of these recipes. If you are allergic to any of these products listed, please do not use them. Some essential oils can damage or burn your skin, so research them thoroughly before using.
3 Ingredient DIY Bug Repellent
Recipe Source: Organic Authority.
- Ingredients: ¼ teaspoon salt; 1 drop each of 5 essential oils ( citronella, lemongrass, tea tree*, myrtle, rosemary); water
- Cost: The oils might be pricey, but if you get together with 5 friends, it would be a great investment
- Directions: Put salt and oils in a 4 ounce spray bottle until the oil is soaked up by the salt. Fill the bottle with water and shake well. Spray your body (avoid the eyes) with the mixture before going out.
Essential Oil Bug Spray Recipe
Recipe Source: Wellness Mama.
- Ingredients: 30-50 drops of your choice of essential oils (citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, cajeput, eucalyptus, cedar, catnip, lavender, mint); witch hazel; distilled or boiled water; vegetable glycerin (optional)
- Cost: The cost of the oils might be prohibitive, but with this recipe you can use as little as two oils or three oils
- Directions: Fill an 8 oz. spray bottle half full with distilled or boiled water; pour witch hazel to fill almost to the top; add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin; add essential oils.
Back Off Mosquito Repellent
Recipe Source: Lexies Kitchen.
- Ingredients: 1-1/2 tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon of castor oil; 8 drops of rosemary oil; 8 drops of lemongrass oil; 4 drops of geranium oil.
- Cost: Manageable
- Directions: Add all ingredients to a spray bottle and shake well before spraying.
Natural Insect Repellent
Recipe Source: DIY Natural.
- Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of either witch hazel or vodka or one tablespoon of each, 2 tablespoons of one or a combination of carrier oils (grape seed, jojoba, almond, olive, neem); ½ teaspoon of vodka, if not already using; 100-110 drops essential oils (lemon eucalyptus, cedar wood)
- Cost: If only witch hazel is used, and a couple of the oils, the cost should manageable.
- Directions: Add both carrier and essential oils to a 4 ounce spray bottle and shake well.
DIY Bug Spray Recipe
Recipe Source: Scratch Mommy.
- Ingredients: 30 drops of tea tree oil; 10 drops of geranium essential oil, 1 tablespoon of vegetable glycerin; distilled water
- Cost: The cost of the oils, vegetable glycerin and distilled water might add up
- Directions: Mix essential oils, vegetable glycerin in 4 oz. spray bottle and shake well. Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water and shake again.
Homemade Bug Spray
Recipe Source: Dr. Axe.
- Ingredients:1/2 cup witch hazel, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 40 drops essential oils (eucalyptus, lemongrass, citronella, tea tree, or rosemary)
- Cost: Medium – the butters and the Vitamin E are reasonable, but the beeswax and multiple essential oils might be expensive
- Directions: Mix all ingredients in glass 8 oz. spray bottle and use as needed.
Child-Friendly Repellent Lotion
Recipe Source: Inhabitat.
- Ingredients: 1/3 cup of coconut oil; 15 drops of peppermint oil, lavender oil or clove essential oil
- Cost: Extremely affordable
- Directions: Mix coconut oil and other oils together in a bottle. Use on skin as needed.
Homemade Bug Spray Using Fresh Herbs
- Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of fresh mint (spearmint or peppermint) finely chopped, 6 tablespoons of fresh herbs ( catnip, citronella, lavender and/or cloves) finely chopped, 1 cup distilled water, or water that has been boiled and cooled, 1 cup witch hazel, rubbing alcohol or vodka
- Cost: Very cost effective
- Directions: Boil water, add fresh herbs, cover and cool completely. When the mixture has cooled, strain the herbs out and squeeze excess water from the herbs into the saucepan. Mix infused water with 1 cup of witch hazel, rubbing alcohol or vodka. Store the mixture in the fridge. Use as needed.
Homemade Bug Repellent
Recipe Source: Soap Making Resource.
- Ingredients: 7.2 oz grape seed oil, a few drops of citronella, lavender and peppermint essential oils
- Cost: Reasonable
- Directions: Mix all oils together in a glass jar and shake well.
Homemade Essential Oil Insect Repellent Spray
Recipe Source: Tasty Yummies.
- Ingredients: 2 ounces of distilled or boiled water; 1.5 oz. witch hazel; 30 drops of citronella oil*; 25 drops of peppermint oil; 15 drops of tea tree essential oil
- Cost: Manageable
- Directions: Add water, witch hazel and essential oils to a 4 oz. spray bottle. Shake well and spray onto skin as desired.
Whilst mosquito borne diseases might be worrisome, do not let them deter you from enjoying your trip to the Caribbean. Your focus should be on keeping you and your family safe and enjoying the sights and sounds of the destination.
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