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Published July 07, 2009, 12:00 AM

My battle against the blood-sucker

Minnesotans can put up with a lot – mosquitoes, blizzards, mosquitoes, sub-zero wind-chills, mosquitoes, stifling humidity, and did I mention mosquitoes? Since I have two family members allergic to the nasty bites, I’ve become a bit of a self-proclaimed expert on fighting off the multiple stings.

Minnesotans can put up with a lot – mosquitoes, blizzards, mosquitoes, sub-zero wind-chills, mosquitoes, stifling humidity, and did I mention mosquitoes?

This irritating insect fills our state each summer. Thanks to our 10,000 lakes, these miniature predators build their forces. Like a miniscule air force, they attack the unsuspecting campers sitting around a peaceful bonfire. Even a great day of swimming ends in itchy ankles that even the biggest bottle of Calamine lotion can’t control.

Since I have two family members allergic to the nasty bites, I’ve become a bit of a self-proclaimed expert on fighting off the multiple stings.

Except every time I think I’ve found the golden ticket, the miracle cure, it fails as quickly as it worked. That’s because mosquitoes are invariably drawn by numerous factors – food, smell, color, light, the dog’s breath, Aunt Irma’s carpet bag.

Here are some of the most interesting things I’ve found to avoid becoming an all-you-can-eat buffet for a mosquito family reunion:

•Put some water in a white dinner plate and add a couple of drops of Lemon Fresh Joy dish detergent. I’m not sure why white, but I tried orange and it didn’t work. If you have ethical issues about poisoning creatures, this won’t work for you. The skeeters drink it and die – creating a horrific crime scene.

•Wipe Bounce fabric softener sheets all over your clothes and body. It doesn’t seem to be harmful, but penny pinchers beware… the generic brands don’t work.

•Take one vitamin B-1 tablet a day from April through October. It’s a little late to start on this one, but a few fishermen out there swear by it – one said he has been bite-free for 33 years.

•Eat garlic. Or if you want to keep your friends, take a 500-mg garlic supplement three or four times a day.

•Stop eating bananas. At least during the summer. It seems mosquitoes have a sweet tooth for banana breath.

•Vick’s Vapo rub. Don’t eat it, apply it to your body and enjoy sitting at your campfire all alone.

•Rub lavendar or rosemary on your body. I tried lavendar lotion, it didn’t work. Lavendar oil did.

•Mix pure vanilla 50-50 with water and apply to your skin or use a spray bottle.

•Mix 20 drops eucalyptus oil, 20 drops cedarwood oil, 10 drops tea tree oil, 10 drops geranium oil and two oz. carrier oil (such as jojoba). Apply or spray on skin.

It’s a never-ending battle. I’ve been there, done that. I plant marigolds, put up bat houses, encouraged purple martins to move into the neighborhood and avoided being outside at dusk.

And I’ll keep trying a little of this, a lot of that. Because I won’t be beaten by a blood-sucking bug.

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