Are we going to have a bumper crop of mosquitoes this summer?

I hate mosquitoes. I hate everything about them. The biting, the itching, the buzzing sound by your ear as you lay in your tent trying to sleep. Unfortunately, it looks like this year we may have a bumper crop of them. I’m not sure when you were outside last but I did some upkeep in my garden one evening last week and it was all I could do to keep from being carried away by the damned things. With all the rain we’ve had this year I knew it wouldn’t be long before they really showed up.

Whether it’s the West Nile Virus or if you just want to prevent being bitten here’s some tips on what you can do to defend yourself:


Q: What type of repellent stays effective the longest?

A: The champion is DEET in a controlled-release formula (which typically involves a 20% to 34% concentration of the ingredient) or in high concentrations (30% to 100%). Controlled-release formulas have a slight edge in duration of effectiveness.

DEET (Diethyl Toluamide) is a chemical. To some people, the thought of applying it to their skin makes them uneasy. Yet DEET has been in use since 1957 and has been repeatedly tested for toxicity. The human body does absorb DEET, but is believed to eliminate it through urine within 24 hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of DEET and considers it safe when applied according to label instructions.

DEET is the only active repellent ingredient available in high concentrations (30% to 100%) in the U.S. Why? Only DEET’s higher concentrations have been screened extensively for toxicity, a lengthy and expensive process. Such data is required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates repellent ingredients in the U.S.

In 2008 an alternative to DEET, a 20% formula of the chemical picaridin(p-CARE-uh-din), became available in the U.S. Previously it had been available only in a 7% solution. Picaridin’s advantages over DEET: It does not damage gear (in particular, DEET negatively impacts plastics), usually works better against flies and, in the opinions of many people, smells better. DEET in controlled-release formulas and higher concentrations still outlasts it.

In lower concentrations, active ingredients (DEET included) provide shorter-term effectiveness. The duration of effectiveness will vary by active ingredient.

For example, in an often-cited study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, DEET at 6.7% was effective for 112 minutes before the first bite was registered. Citronella, the first widely used “natural” active ingredient (and one that is fading in popularity today), at 10% yielded a bite after 19.7 minutes. A 2004 study produced similar results.

What does that mean for you? Base your choice on the amount of time you plan to spend outside. If you are planning an all-day outing, it makes sense to choose long-duration repellent that contains a higher concentration of an active ingredient—you may have no need to reapply the repellent. If you are planning to be outside for a shorter time, you could choose a low-concentration repellent—usually effective for 1 to 4 hours.

Note: DEET concentrations above 50% do not provide more protection than lesser concentrations, but they are believed to increase the length of the protection.

(taken from

Spray repellents: There are plenty of choices of products out there that contain Deet. Choose one that suits your needs. I’m not a big fan of the way that Deep Woods Off smells but for circumstances that I want higher protection this is what I would choose. 3M also has a good product called Ultrathon that is very effective. There is also repellents that work better for when you are going to sweat. Off Active is one such product that I’ve used and it seemed to work fairly well.

Using a product high in Permethrin can also be effective in repelling mosquitoes. Repel  has a product that is called Repel Mosquito Stop Clothing and Gear. It is to be used only on clothing and gear and is not supposed to used on your skin. I’m not sure the health risks of this product but based on the warning labels on the back of the package warning against any possibility of skin contact I’d say that if your against using chemicals this is not the product for you.

A new addition to the game is the use of personal repellent devices. These are manufactured by a number of different brands and they generally use some form of clip on device that uses a fan to emit a repellent. Off has a clip on that offers up to 12 hours of protection. I’ve heard good things about these but they are a little to pricey for my peanut butter and jelly budget. The clip on runs around $10 and refills are around $7 plus batteries.

If you just want to take care of a backyard there are a number of choices to kill off and or repel theses nasty bugs.

Bonide has a few of options that do a tremendous job of repelling mosquitoes. Two of my favorite products to use are Bonide’s Mosquito Beater Granules and Mosquito Beater RTS liquid. They both do a fantastic job of keeping your backyard mosquito free. The granules are a 100% natural blend of geranium oil, cedar oil, lemon grass oil, garlic and citronella oil. The liquid formula is Permethrin based and seems to be more effective. It also is effective in controlling fleas, ticks, spiders, crickets and even ants.

Another way to control mosquitoes is to help prevent them from maturing. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water and the larva need to develop in the water before becoming flying spawns of Satan. You can help prevent this from happening in your yard by not allowing them to have water to lay eggs in. Any puddle can become a breeding ground so after a rain empty out containers that hold water (like playground equipment for instance). If you have a pond you can add all natural EPA approved mosquito dunks that will kill off larva for up to 30 days. Mosquitoes will not lay their eggs in moving water so you could also add a pump/fountain to a pond. Add a Water Wiggler to your bird bath that will not only prevent mosquitoes but it will attract more birds.

A Water Wiggler in your bird bath prevents mosquitoes from breeding and attracts more birds!

If you really want to be serious you could also use a Mosquito magnet. Mosquito magnets emit low amounts of carbon dioxide (provided by an attached propane tank) that attracts mosquitoes to the magnet. They enter the Mosquito Magnet and are trapped inside by a filter system. You periodically need to empty the filter of mosquitoes and also refill the propane tank. There is a bit of upkeep with these machines and opinions are mixed in terms of how effective they are. I owned one at one point but was tired of the maintenance. I stick to the spray and granular products from Bonide and I’m happy with their results.

Another more natural option for mosquito control is to attract bats with a bat house or two. Bats can eat thousands of mosquitoes a night.  Adding a bat house can really help your yard be more bug free. Check out this blog for more details How to Get rid of 1-5000 mosquitoes every night. Try a Bat House.

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