As Zika concerns grow, protecting yourself from mosquitoes becoming vital

As fear about the Zika virus grows, it's probably not welcome news to hear that the Washington D.C. area is one of the worst areas for mosquitoes in the country.

According to pest control company Orkin, Washington D.C. came in third behind Atlanta and Chicago as the top mosquito cities nationwide.

Why? Because our area is damp, hot and prone to thunderstorms along with the humidity we endure at this time of year - the perfect combination for mosquitoes.

But there is help to avoid the bite and it could be in your kitchen cabinet. Catnip, cedar and cinnamon oils are just a few items you may want to add to your grocery list.

"There are a number of home remedies to assist people in dealing with insect bites," said Eugene Zabolotsky, a member of the American Mosquito Control Association.

It turns out these natural repellants, including lemon eucalyptus oil, basil and garlic, could be as effective as synthetic chemical repellant DEET in the protection against mosquitoes. But you will want to check with your doctor first.

"They are all home remedies that work for some people," said Zabolotsky. "And for some people, it may not be a solution."

The advice comes amid heightened fears about the Zika virus nationwide and more specifically here in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

"These little bushes out front, mulch beds -- probably the two biggest places, most popular places for mosquitoes to hide," said Bobby Frazier of DC Mosquito Squad, a pest control company.

FOX 5 went for a ride with Frazier who said customers' fears about mosquitoes have tripled compared to this time last year.

He had some free advice for us.

"They are going to hide under leaves and under branches," said Frazier. "They don't hide under grass."

Mosquitoes also breed under decks, trampolines and between ivy and bamboo.

The best way to prevent the Zika virus is to bite back, take preemptive action and avoid mosquito bites all together. The bottom line is whether you choose DEET or a natural alternative, no protection is not an option.

For more on mosquito repellent methods, click here.