I’ve had mosquitoes ruin a few camping trips and make a beautiful summer evening outdoors a hassle. But aside from being an annoyance, I know they are also a danger because they can carry diseases.
While malaria and yellow fever have been virtually eliminated in the U.S., thanks to widespread public health efforts, viral encephalitides is still a threat. Encephalitis, which means inflammation of the brain, is caused by a number of bacterial and viral infections and can be transmitted by mosquitoes. Those mosquito-borne strains include Eastern Equine, LaCrosse, St. Louis, and West Nile. The latter has received the most attention lately. In addition to the threat disease-carrying mosquitoes pose to humans, they can also cause canine heartworm.
Keeping you and your family safe from the dangers mosquitoes bring is essential. There are several types of mosquito control you can use to protect your family from the dangers of mosquitoes. Some are more effective than others.
Repellents: Common Mosquito Control
Repellents, including aerosols, creams, sticks, sprays and liquids, can be applied to the skin and clothing.
The most effective repellents that can be applied to bare skin contain DEET. While these repellents do not kill mosquitoes, they can deter them from biting. Depending on the amount of DEET in the product, they can be an effective form of mosquito control from 90 minutes to 10 hours.
Products containing Permanone can be used on clothes, shoes, bed nets and camping gear, but should never be used on skin. While DEET products deter mosquitoes from biting, Permanone kills mosquitoes and ticks. This type of repellent can generally last up to 6 hours. Even after materials treated with Permanone have been washed, the chemical can remain.
Many prefer not to use DEET and Permanone because they are chemicals. There are mosquito repellents available that do not contain these harsh chemicals, and typically they contain oil of citronella. While they provide some relief, they are not as effective as DEET or Permanone. Others claim dryer sheets can be used as a form of mosquito control when tied to clothing.
Directions should always be followed when using repellents. They should never be used on your kids’ hands. And as soon as you’re indoors again, treated skin should always be washed with soap and water.
Controlling Mosquitoes by Eliminating Breeding Sites
Eliminating breeding sites is one of the best forms of mosquito control, but can be costly and difficult for the average homeowner to do. Mosquitoes travel up to several miles, which means breeding areas may be several miles away from where the problem is being experienced.
Taking steps as a community is the most effective way to control mosquitoes. Ensure standing water, from neglected birdbaths and swimming pools to clogged rain gutters, are eliminated.
Larger areas of standing water, such as swamps, ditches, and slow-moving streams, require community resources to eliminate.
Mosquito Control Traps
There are products available that claim to attract, repel or kill mosquitoes.
Electrocuting devices, which are commonly referred to as “bug zappers,” use ultraviolet light as an attractant. These have proven to be highly ineffective at mosquito control. Only a tiny percentage of bugs captured by these traps are in fact mosquitoes. Moths, beetles, and other non-biting and harmless insects are the majority of insects captured by these bug zappers.
Other devices emanate ultrasonic high-frequency sound waves. They claim to repel pests, including mosquitoes. These have been proven to be ineffective forms of insect and mosquito control. Consumer protection agencies have cracked down on these companies that advertise unsubstantiated claims about their devices. However, new companies are always emerging hoping to sell these ineffective mosquito control devices.
There are mosquito traps available that have proven to be highly effective at disrupting the mosquito breeding cycle, thereby virtually eliminating the danger and annoyance of mosquitoes in your yard for an entire season, without exposing your family to harsh chemicals.
The most effective mosquito traps release a continuous stream of carbon dioxide, combined with an attractant, to lure mosquitoes. Once near the trap, the mosquitoes are vacuumed into a net where they dehydrate and die. These traps run continuously for the best results. Some of the more advanced models automatically power down and restart the trap based on 50 degrees, the temperature at which mosquito breeding usually starts.
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