Mosquitoes are a dangerous and pervasive pest found on every continent besides Antarctica. They spread numerous contagious disease like malaria, yellow fever, the Zika virus, and dengue. Mosquitoes are able to dispense disease because they feed on the blood of humans and animals. Each female has a long proboscis which is used to draw blood up into their bodies. Mosquitoes live for a short period of time but produce numerous children over their lifespans. Because of their numbers, their ability to fly, and their capability of living in almost every environment, mosquitoes are difficult for people to avoid.
One of the most efficient ways to stop mosquitoes is to use a repellent. A repellent is a substance used to drive pests away, usually through a combination of smell and toxicity. In the United States, the creation of repellents is carefully monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency to prevent accidental poisoning, human birth defects, and environmental damage. The varieties available on the market include regular pesticides, sprays to use on people and clothing, and even candles.
Some repellents are used by spraying them into the air around a property to stop mosquitoes from entering. These are applied through a misting system, which can be programmed to release bursts at regular intervals or can be used manually. Misting systems cost a fair amount of money, so these are usually only used by companies and businesses. The most pervasive type of repellent in the United States is actually one which can be applied to the skin. These have weaker ingredients than other sprays which can be used professionally for safety reasons. People can coat their skin and clothes in this second type of repellent on a regular basis.
Finally, individuals can invest in mosquito repellent candles to be used outdoors. Manufacturers ensure these candles are composed of known repellents such as citronella. These can be used in conjunction with another method and are not recommended for solo use. Their ingredients are not as strong as though found in other pesticides and thus do not do as great of a job at keeping mosquitoes away.
The most common materials found in mosquito repellents are citronella, DEET, and permethrins. Citronella is a natural ingredient extracted from lemongrass. Its origins are in perfumery, but people began to use it for pest control beginning in the late 19th century. DEET is considered the gold standard of repellent ingredients and can be a dangerous substance in higher concentrations. DEET is a yellow oil which produces an odor that is unattractive and downright disgusting to mosquitoes, which means they won’t land on a person to bite. One of the main problems with this ingredient is that it can negatively affect health and should not be ingested or applied to open skin. Finally, people can use permethrins. Permethrins are highly toxic pest control compounds that cannot be applied to humans or animals but can be used on objects like sleeping bags.
When purchasing a repellent, it’s important for individuals to choose one which suits their lifestyle and needs. Someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time outdoors could be fine using citronella candles, but someone who likes to camp will need something more powerful. If mosquitoes are a major problem for a property, it’s time to call a pest control professional who can keep them away.