Mosquito repellent or mosquito control – which is better? Is it better to spray yourself all over with a mosquito repellent spray or to control mosquitoes, so they are not there to bite you? Of course, it’s sort of a funny question. Obviously, it’s preferable to make sure there are no mosquitoes in your yard. Why slather on the repellent if you don’t have to? But is it really realistic to think you can get your yard to mosquito-free that you won’t need repellent? It would seem that the prudent solution is to do both. Try to prevent mosquitoes where you can, but spray yourself with mosquito repellent spray just in case. The problem with this solution is that almost every repellent has its downsides, so if you can go without, that would be ideal.
Here are some facts and tips about repellents and mosquito control techniques to help you make an informed decision.
Mosquito repellents are designed to keep mosquitoes from landing on you. Some are formulated only for your skin while others are equally effective on skin and clothing. By far the most widely used mosquito repellent is DEET. DEET was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for use by the military following World War II. In World War II U.S. soldiers experienced dense jungle fighting. Mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses were a major impediment to fighting. DEET kept mosquitoes at bay and made it possible for soldiers to avoid serious diseases.
DEET was used heavily in the Vietnam War. The original formula was 75% DEET and 25% ethanol. It smelled pretty awful and was unpleasant to wear, but it kept the bugs away. Modern DEET repellents is a combination of DEET, usually at concentrations from 10%-30%, and polymers meant to slow the release and evaporation of the repellent.
DEET is claimed by most suppliers and the EPA to be safe when used correctly. Proper use is critical, so here are some of the rules to safe DEET use:
- Do not apply more than once a day
- Do not allow the spray near your nose or mouth
- Never breathe DEET spray in.
- Do not use the spray in confined spaces.
- Do not use DEET near food.
- Never use under clothing
- Do not use DEET on babies of 2 months and under.
- Wash off your skin when you return indoors (EPA advice)
So DEET is safe when used right, but are there any safer mosquito repellent sprays than DEET? The simple answer is yes – but they may not all be as effective. 100% DEET is effective for up to 12 hours. 30% DEET, the maximum suggested concentration for children, is good for up to 6 hours. Really good. However, there are alternatives with fewer side effect. They are widely used, and studies have shown them to be effective to varying degrees.
Picaridin is a close runner-up to DEET. It is nearly as effective in scientific studies without many of the side effects of DEET. Picaridin has been in use in Europe and Australia since 1998 and the U.S. since 2005. It has a few significant advantages over DEET:
No greasy feel
Almost completely odorless
Won’t dissolve plastics and synthetic materials
Permethrin is not technically a repellent, because it doesn’t prevent mosquitoes from approaching. Instead, it is an insecticide that kills mosquitoes on contact. It is commonly used to treat clothing and mosquito nets, and should never be applied directly to the skin. It remains effective even after several cycles of laundering.
Permethrin is a synthetic insecticide based on the organic compound in pyrethrum, a plant that has been used as an insecticide for centuries. The synthetic version has a much higher toxicity than the plant. It is a safe and effective mosquito treatment for humans and dogs but is highly toxic to cats due to the way a cat’s metabolism works. It is also deadly to mosquitoes but safe for children.
Citronella is a true insect repellent. It is safe for the whole family, including babies and cats! However, is effectiveness is limited. It is most common in candles and other solutions that release an odor in a particular area. Citronela is not commonly used as a spray for individuals. It has been shown to be somewhat effective, but only in a limited area.
Mosquito Repellent vs. Mosquito Control Systems?
Mr. Mister recommends that you use an effective mosquito control system. First make sure that you have no mosquitoes currently living in your yard, garden or even in your home. Yes, mosquitoes can take up residence indoors, particularly in warm, damp cellars.
Clear out your drains, guttering, downpipe areas, old containers in your yard such as cans, tubs, bird baths, fountains, ponds and anywhere standing water can lie for a few days – a few days, that’s all it takes for a mosquito to lay her eggs and for these to turn into biting adults! They can even breed in cracks in your brickwork or at the junction of a path and a wall.
If you are unsure, contact us, and we will do all that for you. We will then spray all those areas plus undergrowth, long grass, shrubbery and anywhere mosquitoes can hide and breed when not actively biting you. Our ClearZone™ mosquito control service will rid your yard of mosquitoes. It is a very effective treatment, but you must also make sure that new invaders are repelled before they can breed.
Automatic Mosquito Control Sprays
We can offer an automatic mosquito control system in the form of a spray which switches on at preset times. It doesn’t take long to install the system of pipes and feeder canisters to hold the mosquito control insecticide we use – this is generally permethrin. The spray is set to turn on at certain times such as just before dusk. That is when mosquitoes are traditionally on the move to your yard from their primary breeding grounds around slow rivers, lakes, ponds and creeks where they swarm before attacking your barbecue or pool party. The spray deters and destroys them as well as coating the undergrowth where they tend to congregate and rest.
Sure, this is way into July going into to August but you already have mosquitoes they will not just disappear. The Mr. Mister mosquito control system can be installed at any time of the year, and we can rid your yard of these insects any day you want irrespective of the day of the week or the season.
So: mosquito repellent or mosquito control? There are few doubts that Atlanta mosquito control is a more effective method of avoiding bites than mosquito sprays. The latter may deter mosquitoes. But likely not them all. By using effective mosquito control techniques, there are no mosquitoes around to bite you, and you can enjoy your yard without being slathered in insecticide.