Monday, April 30, 2012

Natural, non-toxic mosquito spray

Yep, it is that time of year.  I was working on mittens yesterday and making mosquito spray today.  Ah, spring in New England....

Sprigs of lemon balm in a quart canning jar.

Among the first plants to emerge in spite of the chill in the air are the two herbs, lemon balm and catnip.  Once you establish these plants, they are impossible to get rid of.  They multiply like crazy, so don't run out and buy them if you don't already have them in your garden....almost anyone who has them will have little plants that they can give you.  They pop up all over the place and are weeded out all spring.

 Care-free lemon balm.

To make a very easy, inexpensive, safe mosquito spray all you need are these two fresh herbs, apple cider vinegar, and two weeks.

Volunteer catnip.

Simply snip sprigs of each plant in about equal amounts and pack them into any glass jar you might have handy.  You can alternate layers, as I do, or just guess-timate and fill the jar halfway with one and then fill it up with the other, packing it down as you go.

Filled jar.

Add some apple cider vinegar to cover the herbs.  You may use a spoon to crush or pound the leaves if you wish.  I give them a few jabs before and after adding the vinegar.

Push the leaves down, removing air bubbles.

You can give the jar a shake a couple of times a day to keep them in contact with the vinegar or simply weight the herbs down with a scrubbed rock.  I keep a small box of rocks that I've collected for this purpose in a cupboard.  The summer I was on that mission, I kept two canning rings in my car so if the opportunity arose to pick up smooth, round rocks, I could use the lids to determine if they were the correct size.  It worked.  I have a nice little selection.  Scrub them, then boil them or run them through the dishwasher.  You never know if someone's dog tinkled on them.

Weighted down with a couple of river rocks.

Last, but not least, mark them with a sticky note as to when it was made (the whole five minutes it took!) and when two weeks will be up.  On that date...or later if the mosquitoes haven't arrived yet...strain it into a clean jar with a tight fitting lid.

If I don't write it down, it doesn't get done.

I like to mix it half and half with water in a spray bottle with a fine mist sprayer.  I keep one by my milking stand and one in the house.  I find that it gets me about 15-20 minutes mosquito-free, which is enough time to finish what I am doing and get into the house.  And I'm not left needing to shower off greasy, smelly, poisonous bug spray when I get in for the night.  And I can use it on my goats, too.  

This is one of the easiest projects I've done all week....and quickest.  Run right out and get some lemon balm and catnip to put in a corner of your garden this spring.  There is still time.  The mosquitoes will be out all summer and fall and you'll be glad you did!


  1. I've got tons of catnip this year but my lemon balm never does much but just hang in there. It's never offered to be invasive.

    I'm going to try this and get back to you. We have a swamp not 50' from the house/garden/barn on the north side and the mosquitoes are horrendous. They were out back in early March this year. If this works, you get an award!!!

  2. We have a seasonal swamp near our gardens, too, and it can be miserable out there in the evening. I warn you, though, that this spray will not handle the millions of mosquitoes that come out of a swamp on a calm summer evening, especially of one is either nutrient deficient (even with an ideal diet, if digestion is not working at a high level of efficiency, we can be nutrient deficient) or if the body isn't regulating blood sugar effectively....obvious when there are two or more people standing side by side and one is getting eaten and the other is being ignored by the mosquitoes.

    But to get me through late is perfect! I carry the bottle with me if I'm going near the swamp, though.

  3. I did know that if I've had too much fruit or anything sweet, I got eaten alive. Otherwise, usually they leave me alone. So we will see. I went right out and grabbed some plant tops and got the vinegar in. It's a 1 1/2 cup jar, just to test it. So in 2 weeks...

  4. Very interesting! I always wondered why some people get bit up by bugs, and some do not. I have never ever had a problem with bug bites, but my sister gets eaten alive! If I only had some catnip and lemon balm now ... I may try planting some this year!