That love is definitely not mutual. Being a highly optimized mosquito magnet, I’m almost dreading our 4th of July fireworks plans. If I’m around, then nobody else there needs to even worry about bug spray.
Unlike bedbugs, their friends (or competitors?), mosquitoes do carry diseases and viruses. For some reason, mosquitoes aren’t content with simply sucking your blood and leaving you with a giant “thank you” in the form of a red, itchy bump that itches even more when you scratch the dang thing. They have apparently conspired and decided that they would also occasionally inflict dangerous, and sometimes fatal, damage when they bite:
- West Nile Virus – Symptoms may include: fevers, rashes, headaches, nausea, brain inflammation, coma, and can be fatal.
- Malaria – Symptoms may include flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, headaches. If left untreated it may result in convulsions, liver damage, vision damage, coma, and death.
- Dengue fever – Wide range of symptoms, including nausea, headaches, joint pain, diarrhea, etc. Children are the most susceptible.
Those are just some of the potential side effects. A study has shown that getting bitten by non-infected mosquitoes actually increases your chances of dying from West Nile Virus if you are later bitten by an infected mosquito.
So, how can you keep them off?
Limit the mosquitoes around your yard.
- Eliminate standing water (where they breed). Look for things like old tires, pots, etc, they can all harbor small puddles that will act like cheap hourly motels for the creatures.
- In ponds and other ornamental water, you can put top-feeding minnows, fittingly called mosquito fish, that will eat the larvae.
- You can also use BT (bacillus thuringiensus), a completely safe way to kill mosquito larvae in fish ponds and pools. You can get this at your local home and garden store. It comes as a granular or also in a “doughnut” form.
- Use a fan to disrupt mosquito flight paths. Mosquitoes are weak fliers, and a breeze can prevent them from getting to you. You may have to experiment with fan placement, and the type/power of the fan, but once you get it dialed in, you can avoid bug spray altogether in your protected zones.
- Plant mosquito-averting herbs and flowers. You can put them in pots around your porch, or plant them around your yard. Plants that repel mosquitoes include: citronella, basil, lavender, tansy, catnip, pennyroyal, and marigolds.
- You can use mosquito attractants/traps. While these will catch mosquitoes, they also ATTRACT mosquitoes, some of which may end up eying you and deciding you are more attractive than the traps (you sexy blood donor, you).
- A good pest control company can help identify and eliminate mosquito habitats in and around your yard.
While those methods will help limit mosquitoes before they bite, they won’t stop them completely. Plus, if you are away from home, you can’t control the populations everywhere you go (kind of lazy of you, if you ask me). That being said, this next section should appeal to you, assuming you don’t have a natural mosquito magnet in your family, or, worse, if you are the mosquito magnet.
Top ways to make the mosquitoes bite someone else =)
- Use Bounce drier sheets. Seriously, they will actually repel mosquitoes. I use a fresh sheet and rub it on exposed skin, then let the sheet hang out of a pocket. It isn’t perfect, but it does a pretty good job.
- Use a repellant with DEET. Use a product with at least 10-25% DEET. The higher the percentage, longer it can repel mosquitoes, though 50% appears to be the effective limit.
- Use a repellant without DEET. Some options include products that contain picaridin or lemon eucalyptus. They may be slightly less effective, or have a shorter protection period, but they typically smell better and are less greasy feeling. I’m all for not feeling greasy and gross.
- Speaking of not feeling greasy… clip-on repellants have been getting decent reviews. While I personally haven’t tried one of these, they supposedly do a pretty darn good job, don’t stink, you don’t need any nasty creams, lotions, sticky sprays and they don’t leave any residue on your skin or clothes. Sounds like a winner.
- When possible, stay indoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active (and, annoyingly, when it is most pleasant to be outdoors).
- Wear light-colored clothing. According to the CDC, very bright or dark colors will attract mosquitoes.
- Assuming it’s not 110°F where you are (or over 70°F in my opinion), you can cover up with long pants and sleeves. Though, in my experience, they still find places to bite me: hands, neck, face, etc.
- Spritz on some essential oils. Essential oils that reportedly ward off mosquitoes include tansy, pennyroyal, cedar, thyme, catnip, peppermint, eucalyptus, and lemongrass. Mix it with distilled water and spray it on your skin. Helpful tip: Don’t spray anything you will have an allergic reaction to. You may itch more than the mosquito bites would.
If it’s not on the list, then consider it ineffective or not well enough known to make our list this time around. Due to time constraints, we won’t get into the details, but some methods that have little/no effect other than draining your savings include: Citronella candles, electronic bug zappers, sonic repellants, baseball bats, and force-fields (if only because they need to be fine tuned first).