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Natural Insect Repellants for Boaties

Natural Insect Repellants for Boaties

You are out on the water, feeling the warm sunshine down on you as you listen to the lap of waves against your boat. The temperature is perfect, you have a cold drink in hand, and… you suddenly hear the buzzing sound of a mosquito, or start scratching at your legs because something has bitten you!

Unfortunately, boaties are all too familiar with this kind of problem. Midges, in particular, are a huge problem around the Gold Coast area. If you are like many people, you do not want to douse your vessel or yourself in chemical-laden pest repellants. Here are some natural pest solutions you can test out instead.

According to the City of Gold Coast, it is important to do anything you can to increase light and air movement, and to reduce humidity, if you want to keep midges and mosquitoes at bay. Keep things as open as possible so that plenty of light and air gets into every part of your boat and, where possible, use fans to increase air movement.

The local council notes that the activity of biting midges reduces in wind speeds over six to eight kilometres per hour. Similarly, a 2003 study completed by researchers at Michigan State University in the United States, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), discovered that use of electric fans strongly reduced the numbers of mosquitoes caught in traps designed to lure insects in the vicinity.

If you want to hose down your boat, avoid doing this in the afternoon or early morning, as this is when insects are most likely to be nearby and attracted to the water. Do not leave bowls, dishes, boxes or other items around where water can pool overnight; the still water will attract insects, particularly mosquitoes.

Using mosquito coils can be effective to reduce numbers of bugs around. You can utilise paraffin oil or perfumed lamp oil, mixed with citronella or lavender oil, and burn this in Polynesian-style bamboo lamp burners. Place these upwind of your location when lounging outside.

The Brisbane City Council also advises that small lanterns which can be purchased from supermarkets, and which have a tea candle set-up to burn under an impregnated pad, are helpful. These pads have the same active ingredient as that used in mosquito coils; but, in this design, the ingredient is 100 times more concentrated.

Both councils suggest that people protect their skin from pests by wearing protective clothing at the times of day when bugs are most active. Wearing light-coloured clothing (long pants and long sleeves are best), made from closely woven materials, will protect your skin from getting bitten.

You can also make up natural insect repellant sprays to use on yourself, and to spray on flyscreens and around windows and doorways to deter pests. The City of Gold Coast recommends a solution made from equal parts Dettol, baby oil, and eucalyptus oil.

If you would like to have some herbs on hand for meals on your boat, as well as to deter pests, consider setting up a small galley herb garden. Large recycled jars are simple options as home for plants. Many herbs help to deter ants, flies and mosquitoes, in particular. Popular options include mint, basil, lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, lemon balm, and lemon thyme.

Peppermint oil swiped around your boat via cotton wool pads will be helpful. You can also make up spray solutions for cleaning your vessel, using natural ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, cinnamon oil, and cayenne pepper.


By Kellie Byrnes



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