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The mozzies are vicious right now; big as your fingernail and desperate for food. These late season biters are hanging onto life as the temperature falls and the rains lessen. Step outside to hang the laundry and you’re left with red saucer-size marks on your ankles and arms, and a faint whiny buzz ringing in your ears. It won’t be long now until the mozzies depart. But until then, what can I do? They’re not going to rest until they’ve got me.

I discovered aloe vera is effective after the critters bite, but I am willing to try new solutions to have them not bite me in the first place.

The mosquito coils are useful in the house when we have the windows open. The mosquitoes are reluctant to hang around as they don’t fancy wading through the chemical fog. But the coils smell overpowering; what, exactly, are we breathing in? Incense works less well but smells better. The foul-scented “Off!” spray stops them landing but also corrodes watch straps and makes the dye rub off plastic bags so you’re left with an imprint of the Carrefour logo on your leg when you lean against it. And Little Dog can’t lick my feet when I’m wearing “Off!”, which she dislikes. The plug-in electrical devices with the tab of smelly mozzy-killer are effective at night in the bedroom, but not in large rooms. And how are you supposed to protect yourself when you go into the garden, carry your own generator?

No, what we pale-skinned mosquito attractors need is something less chemical, something more natural.

Apparently burning citronella candles results in fewer bites. Even better, reportedly, is lemon eucalyptus which contains an effective plant-based repellent according to a few studies. Garlic is reported to be effective at warding off the biters, but there is very little scientific evidence to suggest it actually works. The same goes fennel oil and thyme oil (can irritate the skin so don’t go overboard). Extract of celery is supposedly nasty to mosquitoes.

And as for Marmite, can it prevent insect bites as many hopeful travellers believe? I am going to conduct my own unscientific experiment using the large jar I was given as a gift, and many servings of Marmite on toast. I guess the other option is to seal the windows, wear a suit and stay indoors until I build up immunity.

Image of an evil mosquito from Zoom Health. Check out the scientific studies about preventing insect bites the natural way here.