Mosquitoes!! (yes the E is proper)

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It’s that time of the year, at the homestead, where the mosquitoes are horrendous. Every water source will have mosquito larvae in it. For a forest homestead in the Ozarks, this can be a struggle. We are 2 miles from a river, there are multiple water ways that run on each side of the homestead property, when it rains a good bit. We catch rain water, and there are multiple locations on the homestead where we have water in containers for the animals we raise. Now pair that with these hot summer nights in the forest and you have yourself one heck of a challenge.

There are many ways in which, we have learned to combat the mosquitoes. Because we do not live in the city nor do we live like modern day folk, that says a lot, because we have to be creative. We can not just go around dumping all the water of the animals and eradicating natural water sources around us. That would be absurd, and a blatant waste of precious water. No, instead, we have learned to live with this uncomfortable reality. So I wanted to talk to you about some ways in which we can be seen battling the mosquitoes at the homestead. Have you ever heard of a bat box? If not, this is an old trick to cut the mosquito population down around you.

In the old days, bat boxes were well known about. Not so much today, well because there are chemicals they spray to cut that population down in the city. Dangerous for you, dangerous for the environment and dangerous for the mosquitoes. Problem is….mosquitoes are not AS dangerous for you as that spray they use! And that is truth.

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This here is a homemade bat box at the homestead. Bat boxes are placed high enough on trees so that bats will use them as homes, bringing in the bat population will bring down the mosquito population. Bats are natural predators of mosquitoes and therefore you are using nature to combat nature. Fight fire with fire, its said, well we, at the homestead, know this trick well and it works. We DO need to place more of these boxes at the homestead, and will be soon. Those little bats fly around lights in the city, at night, and you can see them diving and grabbing little bugs. So that is what they do. Bat boxes are a very good conversation piece and natural pesticide.

There are of course so many ways to fight these pests, such as the citronella candle. One may not do a good job, I’ve actually found that if you use many candles around you, but placed close, they work OK. What works even better are citronella tiki torches. So if we are to be outside after dark and we have some good ole fashioned tiki torch citronella fluid we have used that.

tiki torch

However, as we usually want to do things as naturally as possible, and as frugal and simple as possible, our most favorite method is to simply light a fire, what you city folks would call a campfire, and sit around that, drinking a java or 2, until we are ready to shelter in the cabin for the night. Because the days are so hot here now, 95 today, 109 heat index…humidity. We like it when the sun goes down, but that is when the mosquitoes become most active, guess they like it too. So we usually have to retreat indoors. Problem there is…in doors there is no AC on the homestead, so it is HOTTER indoors at that time. So do you see whey I use words such as battling and horrendous and combating? Because its not like living in the city, controlled environment and such. On the homestead, off the grid, in the forest life takes on a more active row.

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Campfires, or night fires, are great. The mosquitoes stay back and the smoke drives them off. Another good trick is to change our clothes when the sun sets. Long sleeve shirts and long pants are a must during mosquito season, but of course that means you sweat. So, its a toss up. Do you choose to get eaten alive or to sweat to death? We also have found ways to make our own mosquito sprays. Using natural stuff, such as certain plants, we have learned to make natural mosquito sprays that work fairly well. Did you know that citronella fluid is made using the citronella plant?? Natural, but with additives that are not so natural.

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Homemade natural mosquito repellents are safe to use for the environment as well as people. So because we are serious about our natural way of life, we have been known to use homemade natural mosquito repellents often. We either grow what we need, trade for it, wild forage for the plants or we purchase actual concentrated essential oils and use a recipe we know. I will share with you that lemongrass and Thyme are natural repellents and so we sometimes use essential oils from these herbs and mix it with water, witch hazel or even olive oil and spray or rub it on our skin and clothes as often as we need. Paired together, with all that I have mentioned in this post, you can imagine what the affect is. It does not get rid of the mosquito population totally nor do we shy away from 100% mosquito bites, but it works for us.

Some people would scarf and say, mosquitoes carry a lot of diseases, you will all end up sick with some disease. I would tell you…we have been off grid for 6 years and not once has anyone in my family been made ill by one mosquito. And because we are on that subject, not one person in my family been made ill by a single tick bite either, and we get bit by ticks like its some new way of life! Peace, until next time! Stay on top of those buggy bugs!

The following information is from wellnessmama.com I quote for you.

Homemade Bug Spray Ingredients

  • Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint
  • Natural Witch Hazel
  • Distilled or boiled Water
  • Vegetable glycerin (optional)

Homemade Bug Spray Instructions

  1. Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
  2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
  3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using
  4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be. My personal favorite mix is: Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus. It works great and smells good too!

How to Make Bug Spray From Dried or Fresh Herbs

Fresh or Dried Herbs Bug Spray Ingredients

  • Distilled water
  • Witch hazel or rubbing alcohol
  • Dried herbs: peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, lavender, etc. I recommend using at least one herb from the mint family.

Fresh or Dried Herbs Bug Spray Instructions

  1. Boil 1 cup of water and add 3-4 TBSP of dried herbs total in any combination from the above. I use 1 TBSP each of peppermint, spearmint, catnip and lavender, and also throw in a couple of dried cloves.
  2. Mix well, cover and let cool (covering is important to keep the volatile oils in!)
  3. Strain herbs out and mix water with 1 cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol. Store in a spray bottle in a cool place (fridge is great because then its nice and cool).
  4. Use as needed. Added bonus: it smells great and is very refreshing to the skin.

TIP: If you have the time and want to make a stronger version of this recipe, prepare the herbs in an alcohol mixture as a tincture instead and use this directly as a spray after straining out the herbs.

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