Summer is one of the most wonderful times of the year. It would be even better if it weren’t for all the mosquitoes and other pests that wake up with the change in season. Along with their itchy bites and incessant buzzing, mosquitoes can carry life-altering diseases like malaria, dengue fever, Zika, and the West Nile virus (1).
Commercial bug repellents are costly, toxic, and don’t always work as well as they should. They also have serious side effects including:
- Breathing difficulty
- Loss of alertness
- Upset stomach
- Nausea and vomiting
- Insomnia and mood changes
- Hives or mild skin redness and irritation on area sprayed
- Blistering, burns, and permanent scars
- Burning and redness of the eyes, nose, and throat
An Odd Natural Trick
Forget the citronella and DEET, and grab your morning coffee!
Mosquitoes, like many other bugs, have a large quantity of distinct odorant receptors (2). This makes them sensitive to certain strong smells, like the smell of smoke.
In fact, one of the best ways to keep mosquitoes away is to burn coffee grounds, which emit a very strong scent and produce a lot of smoke.
You should use fresh grounds for this. The reason why the grounds burn in the first place is because of the natural oils in the ground coffee. All you have to do is place the grounds in a bit of aluminum paper or an aluminum baking tray and burn it as you would incense.
This is especially useful if you have old coffee (like the kind you set aside for camping trips once a year) that is too stale or rancid for brewing, but it still holds all the oils needed for burning.
Since loose grounds can fly in the wind and start a fire, it’s best to slightly moisten the coffee and to pack two tablespoons of the mixture into a cupcake mold, leaving it to dry for few days before use. For stubborn mosquitoes, add a few bay leaves into the mix.
Coffee grounds will keep bugs away, so feel free to burn it on your porch or in a well-ventilated area of your home, but do not use it near your garden as it can deter pollinators like bees and wasps. If possible, let the smoke flow towards you for best results. Place as many burning grounds around you as you need.
The odor and smoke emitted also works as a repellent for ants, slugs, and snails (3).