Mosquito Repellent Tips

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Are citronella flowers as effective at repelling mosquitoes as citronella oil?

Citronella Plants vs. Candles

Citronella oil (composed of several types of plants), can be made into candles or burned directly. It is an effective mosquito repellant in high concentrations. It should be noted, however, that individual citronella-producing plants do not make enough oil to effectively repel mosquitoes. In other words, if you want them to be effective, buy man-made Citronella products.

What is DEET and how effective a mosquito repellent is it?

Effective Mosquito Repellent

* Don't Use Too Much DEET

The most effective mosquito repellents are those containing DEET (the common name for the chemical N-N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). If you choose to use a repellent, the Department of Public Health suggests you use one containing 15% DEET or less. People should not use repellents containing more than 30% DEET. Products with higher concentrations increase the risk of a toxic reaction while providing little added protection.

Do ultrasonic mosquito repellers work?

Effectiveness of Ultrasonic Mosquito Repellers

Beware of marketing scams. Most people have seen advertisements for fancy ultrasonic mosquito repelling devices intended to drive off mosquitoes by subjecting them to repelling ultrasonic vibrations. These gadgets sound great, except for one thing--they don't work. Both scientific and anecdotal evidence indicates that as mosquito repellents, ultrasonic really don't seem to have any effect.

*Don't be fooled by expensive, high-tech gadgets!

How do I use mosquito repellent safely?

Using Mosquito Repellent as Directed

*Use repellants correctly and wisely to ensure safe and effective results:

• Always read the label before applying any mosquito repellent
• Apply as directed to clothing or exposed skin
• Never apply under clothing and avoid your mouth, eyes and skin damaged by sunburn acne, cuts or abrasions
• Never exceed the manufacturer's recommended application amount or frequency

What is oil of citronella?

Using Oil Citronella

Oil of citronella is one type of effective mosquito repellent. Oil of citronella is the active ingredient in many of the candles, torches, or coils that may be burned to produce a smoke that repels mosquitoes. These are useful outdoors (only under windless conditions). They can be effective yet they are stationary and only protect a limited area. (they are ideal for keeping mosquitoes away from homes, barbeques, camp sites, etc.). If you want to keep mosquitoes off of your person while being active, or traveling out of a certain area, however, repellents applied to the body or clothing are a better choice.

How well do sprays and foggers keep mosquitoes down?

Using Sprays and Foggers Against Mosquitoes

Many homeowners use sprays or fogger mosquito repellents to control mosquito populations in their backyards. These methods aren't without their downfalls, however. Generally, an application of fogger or yard spray will work for about two hours, after which the mosquitoes will return. Another negative is that, in addition to killing and repelling mosquitoes, these repellants will kill and repel a lot of other insects you probably don't want be rid of (such as butterflies and ladybugs).

Do citronella candles work?

Citronella Candles

Citronella candles and smoking coils can be effective in repelling mosquitoes. In order to benefit from the protection they provide, however, you have to stay in the mosquito repellant smoky-plume they produce. Keep in mind that the smoking coils contain pesticides which you will be breathing in as well. In addition, the smoke coverage created by the coils and candles is likely to be uneven, so some mosquitoes might get through anyway.

How good is a mosquito's sense of smell?

A Mosquito's "Nose"

A mosquito's sense of smell is about 10,000 times better than yours. They are able to locate humans because they can detect the carbon dioxide that we give off. Many natural mosquito repellents will mask the odor of carbon dioxide. If mosquitos can't find you, they can't bite you and will seek nourishment elsewhere.

What other natural mosquito repellents are there?

Garlic Mosquito Barriers

Historically, garlic has been used to get rid of many pests, both real and fictional, ranging from slugs to vampires. In particular garlic has a reputation for protecting people from mosquito bites (some think that this could be the origin of the belief that vampires are scared of garlic).

There are a number of commercial garlic sprays on the market that can coat an area and produce a natural mosquito barrier. Garlic is allegedly more effective at repelling some species of mosquito than others (although its overall effectiveness is questionable to begin with).

How should I apply mosquito repellent to children?

Mosquito Repellent and Children

Exercise extreme care when applying bug repellents to children. Ingesting some of these chemicals can be harmful. Avoid applying repellants to children's hands as they might put them into their mouth. Also, remember to wash treated areas with soapy water when you return indoors.

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Guru Spotlight
Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.