Spring is here. Although it seems as though the cold weather just ended, the mosquitoes are already out. This has many homeowners wondering if there is a definitive guide to repelling mosquitoes. What really works? When and where are extra precautions necessary?
Many are wondering whether to spend money on botanical repellents.
Repelling mosquitoes isn’t just a matter of avoiding unsightly, itchy bumps. Mosquitoes spread some of the world’s most deadly diseases. Malaria alone kills about a million people a year, according to the World Health Organization.
“Mosquitoes are able to seek out a human being like a guided missile,” said Anandasankar Ray, a scientist at the University of California, Riverside.
It helps to know your enemy in order to conquer her— only female mosquitoes bite. To that end, let’s briefly consider the situation from the mosquito’s point of view.
Mosquitoes bite you because they require material from your blood to produce eggs. Imagine a mosquito flitting about when suddenly she encounters a little cloud of carbon dioxide. This plume is one of many coming out of your mouth. Special sensors allow the mosquito to detect the plume, a sign that a living vertebrate is near.
As she draws close to the source, her sensors help the mosquito determine that you’re not a horse or a dog but a human — her favorite meal. She homes in on you, possibly aided by infrared radiation coming off your warm body.
What works, what doesn't “The gold standard of mosquitoe repellency continues to be DEET,” Dr. Ray said. Developed by the Army in 1946, DEET is a chemical that can melt your nail polish. That said, the Environmental Protection Agency does not consider it to be a health concern if it is used infrequently and properly.
“There’s no question that it’s the most effective skin repellent on earth,” Dr. Vosshall said.
DEET is sold in concentrations from less than 5 percent to 100 percent. Wearing long sleeves and pants will reduce the amount you need to use. Still, covering up (even in clothing with built-in repellent) is not foolproof.
To get rid of mosquitoes in your yard, contact EHS Pest.