DEET is considered the ‘gold standard’ of mosquito repellents. Endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), DEET doesn’t mask the smell of the host or jam the insect’s senses – mosquitoes simply don’t like it because it smells bad to them. A product containing 10 percent DEET can protect you for up to 90 minutes. The problem with DEET is the high toxicity and the % of people who have a reaction to this chemical.
Two other repellents, picaridin and lemon-eucalyptus oil, have also proven effective and are now recommended by the CDC. OzzieMozzie is an all-natural accentual oil based mosquito spray which does not contain the chemicals that can harm you, especially for long term use.
Bacteria can be used to kill mosquito larvae. Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) is a commercially-produced bacteria, sold in pellet and powder form, that can be laced into water where larvae live. It produces proteins that turn into toxins after the larvae eat it.
Dark clothing attracts mosquitoes. Remember, they are drawn to heat and darker clothes retain more heat than light-colored clothing.
Insecticides work, but only in the short term. Permethrin, one of the most common chemicals used by local mosquito control programs, kills mosquitoes on contact by disrupting their central nervous systems. However, eggs and larvae often are not affected. Once the insecticide dissipates, mosquitoes can return.
Bats do not eat mosquitoes. At least, not very many of them. Mosquitoes make up less than 1 percent of a bat’s diet. And purple martins, a bird popularly believed to be a mosquito predator, eat very few mosquitoes. They prefer dragonflies and other insects.
The two main mosquito predators are fish and dragonflies. Dragonfly larvae, called nymphs, eat mosquito larvae, and adult dragonflies prey on adult mosquitoes. Some towns in the United States release dragonflies every summer as a natural form of mosquito control.
Mosquito traps can kill thousands of mosquitoes in a single night. One study conducted by public health researchers in Australia found that a trap caught and killed more than 44,000 female mosquitoes from 17 species in less than two weeks.
Bug zappers are useless against mosquitoes. Studies have shown that less than 1 percent of the insects killed by zappers are mosquitoes or other biting insects. The devices attract and kill beneficial or harmless insects, like moths, and have no effect on the overall mosquito population. Electronic repellents have also proven ineffective in scientific testing.