Summer mosquitoes can seem overwhelming. They can even drive you to heavy doses of pesticidal repellent.

Bad idea. Or might be, according to the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, which estimates up to 56 percent of the most common repellent used on the skin (diethylmetatoluamide or DEET) enters the bloodstream, and can remain in your system for two months. So try a few healthier options before grabbing that bottle of Off!:

Make Your Own:
Mix citronella or oil of pennyroyal with a dash of vegetable oil, or even a splash of vodka. Or cheat, and buy natural repellents that include these effective ingredients.
Soft Approach:
Avon sells a repellent without even trying. Jimmy Carter is among fans who claim a mixture of one part Skin-So-Soft bath oil and one part water keeps mosquitoes away–and makes even the rankest camper smell pretty. But Avon downplays this use: They want their bath oil associated with silky smooth skin, not insecticide.
A Fine Whine:
Also available are small, solar-operated gadgets that emit a high-pitched whine that bugs even the hungriest mosquitoes. Keep one of them on the car’s dashboard or on your beach blanket until it charges, then flip it on at dusk, and watch bugs buzz off.
Dress the Part:
For rainforesty conditions, get serious: Wear long-sleeved shirts, tuck pants into socks, don gloves and a hat, and wrap a bandanna around your neck. If you have to use a DEET product, apply sparingly, and in low concentrations (30 percent DEET for adults, 20 percent for children). Treat clothing instead of skin, but keep in mind DEET can corrode plastic, rayon, spandex, and even vinyl car seats.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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