Repellents can use several different mosquito spray chemicals. Any mosquito spray should eradicate mosquitoes from your yard or garden and the plants around your home. But the chemicals vary in effectiveness, safety, and side effects. Repellents often combine a spray with a mosquito barrier misting system. There are several such systems available, depending on what active component is used. Mr. Mister also offers manual applications—once every three weeks for most customers.
When people think of chemical mosquito control, they often think of toxic solutions that kill everything they touch. Luckily, the horrors of DDT are behind us, and modern mosquito sprays are much less dangerous. However, we should not become complacent because what kills insects might also have the potential to harm many other forms of animals. There are many options for insecticides to use in sprays and mosquito misting systems. Let’s have a look at the most common and compare them for potential risks to people and pets.
The most popular insecticide in the post-DDT era has been DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide.) DEET was developed by the US Army way back in 1946 and is still the insecticide of choice for many people. However, its safety is in doubt. Tests have shown DEET to reasonably safe if not used in excess or for long periods. But they have also demonstrated a health risk to young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people who use it more than occasionally.
One study on DEET focused on rangers in Everglades National Park who used DEET almost daily. The study took place in 1984, with a follow-up in 1985. The researchers found that regular exposure to DEET was positively correlated with insomnia, muscle cramping, symptoms of mood disturbances, skin rash or blisters, and difficulty starting or stopping the urinary stream. They also found instances of impaired cognitive function.
DEET may be effective against insects, but it also smells bad and irritates the skin. Many people feel that DEET has an oily feel on the skin. And don’t use it on rayon or PVC, because it can dissolve certain plastics and synthetic fibers. It is also persistent. It does not biodegrade and is not very soluble in water, so it can last a long time in your yard!
Picaridin, a Safer Alternative to DEET
Among the most effective mosquito spray chemicals available, picaridin is generally safer than DEET. Bayer developed picaridin in 2005, so it is relatively modern, but it has caught on fast. Picaridin is also known as Icaridin outside the US, and its full chemical name is hydroxyethyl isobutyl piperidine carboxylate.
Studies indicate that picaridin has a lower level of toxicity and does not irritate the skin as DEET does. However, it is still a highly effective insecticide. It does not dissolve plastics, leaves no residual smell, and is not oily. It is safer to use picaridin on your clothing than DEET, and Mr. Mister recommends picaridin as a direct replacement for DEET.
Permethrin in Spray and Barrier Systems
Permethrin is a synthetic form of the pyrethrum, which occurs naturally in chrysanthemums. It can cause slight skin irritation but is an effective insecticide and mosquito repellent. This is the mosquito repellent of choice for Mr. Mister.
Some mosquito services still use DEET-based sprays. But we see no need for DEET since permethrin does the job very well. Why choose a more toxic substance if you have an alternative that works? Not only does it work, but it is biodegradable. Permethrin disappears within an average of about three weeks. Like DEET, it is not very water-soluble, so it can withstand rain and continue to repel mosquitoes until it biodegrades. We repeat our mosquito spray service for our clients every 21 days as the spray biodegrades.
Pyrethrum For Natural Protection
Pyrethrum is the natural mosquito control insecticide that permethrin is based on. It is the preferred mosquito spray chemical for skin or clothing and is obtained from chrysanthemums. It is a less risky mosquito repellent for children and the elderly than any of the alternatives. Pyrethrum is also safe to use around food crops, such as in your garden. It is not as powerful as permethrin and is typically used when there is a need for natural mosquito control. We respray our natural solution every 14 days, as it tends not to last as long as the synthetic sprays.
These are the most commonly used insecticides for mosquito spray and misting systems. Generally, Mr. Mister uses permethrin and offers pyrethrum as a natural organic alternative. If a client insists on DEET, we’re happy to explain why we don’t use it and recommend picaridin as an effective alternative. These three are all the mosquito spray chemicals that are needed. There is little need for DEET with today’s technology.
If you’re ready to go mosquito-free in your backyard, or to learn more about our chemicals, contact Mr. Mister Mosquito Control today!