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A Chronic Mosquito Victim’s Guide to Bug Repellent

Something I will never have to discuss in therapy is how much mosquitoes love me. Is it because I eat ice cream daily and they can sense the sugar in my bloodstream? Or since I spend most of my time gardening, I’m simply exposed to them more than others? For whatever the reason, I’m the star of my own Itchy & Scratchy Show. Mosquitoes constantly attack me, and I’m currently dealing with one bugbite on the bottom of my foot (unbearable), another on my left cheek (embarrassing), and countless others enclosing my ankles (woof). As a result, I’m always Amazon binge-shopping to try to find some magical cure. These are the most successful repellents that I’ve discovered, aside from wearing a scuba suit each time I step outside.

Mosquito Guard’s incense sticks, infused with citronella, rosemary, and lemongrass oil, not only keep bugs at bay, but they create nice ambience if you’re throwing a party outside (they omit a refreshing lemon scent, too). Place them directly into dirt in the ground, or inside potted plants, and they’ll burn for several hours. People won’t even know you’ve created a protective shield. Congratulations, you’re now a mosquito-fighting superhero.

These Mosquito Guard Repellent Incense Sticks are sold out, but these incense sticks — also infused with citronella, lemongrass, and rosemary — are a fine substitute.

What I like about citronella bracelets is that you don’t have to douse yourself in bug spray; they’re quick and easy to slip on your wrists and ankles. Plus, when friends ask about your new accessory, you can show them all your bugbites, which is an attractive party trick. These ecofriendly, waterproof bracelets are my favorite not for the aforementioned practical reasons; it’s because they’re embellished with pandas. I also love these braided faux-leather bracelets, which look like friendship bracelets from summer camp. Too bad mosquitoes are my only friends now.

Unfortunately, the panda-printed citronella bracelets are sold out. This water-resistant, nontoxic bracelet is infused with citronella, lemongrass, lavender, eucalyptus, and geraniol oils. No pandas, though.

Honestly, all of these bracelets work decently well; I’ve found them to be interchangeable, so choose whichever you find most aesthetically pleasing. Another option is the simple, minimalist Fakon bracelet, and the Green Mojo bracelet works, too. The Sturme bracelet looks like a hair tie, but it’s not like mosquitoes are hiding inside your hair. (Oh no, a new nightmare.)

Most bug sprays make me feel like I need to go home and immediately shower — it’s sticky and smelly. Not this Repel lemon-eucalyptus spray, which the Cut’s Ashley Weatherford turned me onto last year. The pleasant scent and small packaging make it easy to add to your everyday routine, and not totally out of place if you whip it out while sitting outside at a nice restaurant.

A gardener friend who lives upstate gifted me this Thermacell, which I grip in my hand and wave around like it’s a magic wand. It’s a bit more involved than your other mosquito repellents — powered by a butane cartridge and three repellent mats that you need to refill regularly, which is kind of annoying. But it claims to have a 15-foot mosquito-protection zone, and that means it’s fine to just place it down on your dinner table, or inside your tent, and go about your business. It’s also completely odor-free, as the mats omit allethrin, which is “a synthetic copy of the natural repellent found in chrysanthemum flowers.” Technology! If, alas, you are inevitably bitten, sacrifice your caprese salad and rub some fresh basil on the bite. It’s strangely effective.

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A Chronic Mosquito Victim’s Guide to Bug Repellent