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The only good mosquito is a dead mosquito

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The high-pitched buzzing, the virulent diseases they carry, the constant gnawing on various body parts: Mosquitoes are the worst summer-related irritant, hands down.

But just because we loathe them doesn't mean we have to smother them—or our ourselves—with chemically laden bug repellent. There are eco- and mosquito-friendly steps we can take to prevent these pests from leaving us itchy and bothered.

Eliminate standing water in and around your house, in containers, old buckets and trash cans. If you absolutely must have water lying around for animals and birds, make sure to change it often. Take care of leaky faucets or sprinklers.

If you're the gardening type, certain plants and flowers keep mosquitoes away. Basil, lemongrass, catnip, tansies and marigold are said to do the trick.

Eat garlic. Mosquitoes hate the smell of it. So next time you're in the mood for pasta or potatoes, load it up with tons of garlic. Pinning fabric softener sheets to the inside of clothing is also said to deter mosquitoes. If it does work, you'll smell good and you won't get bitten.

Some folks feel like they must spray something on themselves to keep the bugs at bay. If you're in this boat, use lemon eucalyptus oil instead of OFF! or Cutter. The oil is available at most health food stores. Dilute five drops into a small spray bottle of water and you're set. Apple cider vinegar (rubbed directly on the skin) does the trick, too.

Exercise proper judgment. If you know you're going to be outside after dark—especially near water—wearing short and bright-colored clothing is like wearing a "Bite me" sign on your forehead. Go for dull colors, long sleeves, pants and socks. You'll be grateful in the morning.

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