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From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa has been awarded the honor of "WINNER" in the "Cookbooks: International" category of the 2014 International Book Awards!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lime Mosquito Repellent

What do limes and mosquitoes have in common?

Answer: Nothing – they hate each other...........want to know more? Ok, I'll tell you.

Living in the tropics has many wonderful aspects and living in the tropics has things that drive you crazy! For me, I HATE bugs and insects! Actually, hate is not a strong enough word for how I feel about those pesky, annoying and disgusting creatures. One that I truly hate is the mosquito. Being in a humid climate for many months during the year, you learn to live in harmony with these little buzzers. Yeah.....dream on!
The other night in bed I was awakened by something crawling on my arm. After Pete had loosened my fingernail grip from the ceiling, we saw a huge cockroach on the bed! Cockroaches here are about 1-1/2 inches long and they bite. I was not bitten thank goodness, and was ever so thankful that it was not a scorpion who decided to share our bed. Needless to say, all the covers were removed from the bed, checked in all the nooks and crannies around the bed and deemed it safe to go back to sleep- with the light on of course! Just as I was finally dozing off, I heard bzzzzzzzz in my ear! Geez, now the mosquitoes are here too! Being the mosquito magnet that I am, I flew down the stairs to the kitchen, cut a lime and rubbed it all over my head, arms, neck, legs and feet. I was NOT going to get a mosquito bite tonight!

In the morning I did two things. First, to Pete's protests that it is too early in the season, I put up the mosquito netting around our bed. I need to get some sleep after all. Second, I blitzed three whole limes in the blender with some water, strained it and put it into my ever present spray bottle. I may smell like a citrus drink, but I won't get any mosquito bites!

If you are also a mosquito magnet, then you are well aware of that fact. I have tried so many 'guaranteed to work' sprays, candles, vitamins, and food (I have eaten so much garlic I can keep vampires at bay just with my breath), that I have lost count. I do not however, ever use chemical sprays.

I have resorted to mosquito netting in all the important areas of my home. Surrounding the veranda, around my patio table and totally encasing my bed, floor to ceiling!

My poor husband just cringes each time I tell him I am going to the fabric store. He knows I will come home with another 30 yards of netting and enough Velcro to cover the city. Then, of course, it is his job to put it up! After all, it is the least he can do for the 'mosquito magnet'.

Mosquito season here takes off around June and lasts until May. There are certain times of year that are not too bad, but why take chances?

About a month ago, I was visiting with Doña Carmen, a 93 year old friend I have come to adore. She stands about 4' tall, weighs about 80 pounds and briskly walks the 5 blocks to her neighborhood grocery store every day. She is a wealth of knowledge and always makes me laugh.

We were sitting on her porch having tea and cake, which she still makes from scratch, and the mosquitoes were particularly annoying that day. I was batting them, squishing them, smacking them on my arms and legs, one even bit me on the forehead! Darned mosquitoes! I had, however, noticed that she was not being bothered by them. Some people just don't have that attraction.

She asked if I had rubbed my skin with lime before I came over. I starting laughing and told her no that I had never rubbed limes on my skin. I normally put my limes in food and drinks. Well, she looked at me like I was from outer space, stomped into the kitchen, cut a lime in half and ordered me to rub it all over my exposed skin. Being a polite guest, I smiled and rubbed the lime all over my arms, legs and forehead. I had lime pulp everywhere. Then I noticed something, I wasn't getting buzzed anymore. Maybe there really was something to this. But something had to be done about all that pulp hanging on me. I looked like I had pustules ready to pop at any second.

Being the skeptic that I am, I needed further testing. I came home, blitzed a couple of limes in the blender. I had to add some water to make it blitz well. Strained it through several layers of cheesecloth and put it in a spray bottle. Sure smelled nice.

Every time I went outside, no matter where I was going, I would spray myself with the lime juice and rub it in. I always smelled fresh too.

I tested this method for a month. During humidity ratings of 89% to 94% we certainly had our share of mosquitoes.  But, I did not get even one bite in all that time! I thought maybe there was something about the mosquitoes at this particular time of year, perhaps they weren't as blood thirsty. As a test, I put the lime juice all over my arms, neck, face, ears, and one leg, leaving the other one vulnerable. Sure enough, the minute I walked outside, I got a bite on that one leg. I ran back into the house and applied the lime juice to the naked leg and again I was protected.

To summarize: If you are a 'mosquito magnet', you know who you are, get yourselves 3 key limes, scrub them up, toss them in the blender with about a cup of water and blitz away. Strain it through 6 layers of cheesecloth and pour it into a spray bottle. I keep mine in the fridge because I don't know what the shelf life is if I leave it on the counter.

The moral I guess to this story is, if you have an elderly friend or family member who gives you 'insider tips', listen and be respectful even if you don't believe a word, because they may just teach you something you didn't know!


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