As mosquito bites and the fear of catching dengue fever rise during Costa Rica’s rainy season, Paul Meister, a resident of the central Pacific town of Miramar, says he has the secret recipe for keeping mosquitoes at bay.
“Water and vanilla,” Meister says. “Just put some drops of vanilla extract in a bottle, mix it up to your liking, and spray it on before going outside. I’ve been using it for four years and truly can’t remember the last time I’ve been bitten by a mosquito.”
And it’s not only Meister who subscribes to the vanilla-water repellent.
Dozens of health and home remedy websites also boast the effectiveness of the formula, which is said also to keep ticks and fleas off dogs.
According to Meister and several health sites, the most important ingredient to the formula is a sugar-free, pure vanilla extract.
These sources say that sugar or added preservatives will result in a sticky, ineffective spray. Once a natural vanilla extract is acquired, only one tablespoon needs to be added to a small amount of water (about a cup or less). After mixing, the homemade repellent should be applied with a spray or by dabbing it on your skin with cotton balls.
“I am outside most of the day so I apply it a couple times a day,” Meister said. “I can hardly even feel it on me and it works all day. Boy, does it work well.”
In the first six months of the year, 10,788 cases of dengue have been reported in Costa Rica, 4,000 more than all of 2009 (TT, July 16).