Mosquito bite prevention, mosquito control
Mosquito Prevention, Protection, & Control The Hard Facts: What Works and What Doesn't
There are a wide array of products on the market designed to either repel or kill mosquitoes. Unfortunately, the vast majority of products simply don't work, or have a negligible impact on preventing mosquito bites and irritations. The good news is there are a number a of mosquito control products that do work as well as a number of simple things you can do around your home to reduce the mosquito population. The most important thing to remember is that the most effective mosquito control program will incorporate a number of strategies, including an effective trapping system, a personal repellent, and a common sense approach to reducing mosquito breeding and resting opportunities on your property.
We recommend that a three-pronged approach to home / back-yard mosquito control:
Step 1: Eliminate Mosquito Breeding and Resting Areas on Your Property
Eliminate mosquito breeding and resting areas on your property and encourage your neighbors and nearby property owners to do the same. Eliminate pools of stagnant or standing water by emptying old containers that have collected rain water (old tires too!), eliminating depressions that can fill with water when it rains, ensuring that rain gutters are not clogged, etc. You will be surprised how many breeding grounds there are in the average yard! For larger pools of stagnant water (ponds, etc.), you can try a environmentally-friendly biological larvicide. Keep shrubs and grass well maintained and cut short as these areas can provide good resting areas for mosquitoes during the day. Put goldfish in garden ponds and install a fountain - the goldfish will eat the mosquito larva! You will never be able to control all mosquitoes on your property with these techniques since they will breed and rest on adjacent properties, but they are a cost-free or low-cost approach that will help with your overall mosquito control efforts.
Step 2: Install a Quality Mosquito Trap
We recommend the Lentek Mosquito Trap (MK12). They are reasonably priced and very effective in eliminating biting mosquitoes over an area oup to 1 acre and are well suited to capturing mosquitoes migrating into your back yard living space from neighboring properties. See below for more details.
Step 3: Use Repellent Sparingly
Use a quality repellent containing deet to repell any remaining mosquitoes, but use very sparingly and only to clothing (not bare skin) if at all possible. Be extremely cautious using on children! Reduce the amount of exposed skin by wearing light-weight clothes covering your arms and legs. Clothes that blend in with your surroundings will attract less mosquitoes than clothing with a high contrast to your background.
Mosquito control products generally fall into two main categories:
Traps and Zappers
Repellents come in many forms including chemical sprays, natural lotions, and electronic devices. The most well known repellent is deet (N, N diethyl-m-toluamide). Deet has been studies profusely by the scientific community and there is little doubt that it does work, especially in higher concentrations. It is the most effective and long-lasting repellent that is commercially available. Unfortunately, health concerns have been raised by many researchers since deet is a chemical. These concerns have prompted many to recommend that deet with a concentration of more than 10% should not be applied to children, and that deet should always used sparingly on exposed skin. In a race to develop a natural alternative to deet, many manufacturers have turned to essential plant oils and other substances. Unfortunately, only limited success has been achieved. Those that do offer some mosquito repellence generally have a short effiacy period - in other words, they don't last long. Most are simply ineffective. Citronella is probably one of the best known natural "repellents." Most who have used it will agree that its effectiveness is quite limited. Electronic and ultrasonic devices have also proven largely ineffective.
Insecticides are growing increasingly unpopular due to well-founded concerns over the safety. Many municipalities are now banning their use as a result of new research that suggests many popular insecticides may cause cancer, birth defects, and developmental problems in children. They also kill beneficial insects and may contaminated solis and water supplies for long periods of time. Application of insecticides on your property will also do little to ensure a mosquito bite free yard, as mosquitoes will still migrate to your property from neighboring land in search of their next meal. We do not recommend the use of any insecticides due to the potential health risks to your familty, pets, and wildlife (birds, beneficial insects, fish, etc.).
Many public mosquito control programs have opted to use biological larvicides instead of traditional insecticides. Not only are they effective, but they exclusively target the mosquito larva before they hatch into biting mosquitoes without harming other creatures or leaving a toxic residue. The downside of larvicides is that they again do not prevent migrating mosquitos from reaching your yard after hatching on adjacent properties. Larvicides that can be purchased in tablet or pellet form to be applied to any pools of stagnant or standing water on your property to prevent mosquito breeding.
Traps and Zappers
The same mosquito traping technology used by research scientists is now available for home use. There are a wide variety of traps and zappers available on the market, with equally varying effectiveness. For the most part, zappers are far less effective and result in the killing of too many beneficial insects. Two brands of mosquito traps, the Lentek Mosquito Trap and the Mosquito Magnet, have been independently determined to be very effective in capturing mosquitos. These units use various attractants like CO2, heat, and light to mimic the blood meal of the female mosquito (it's true, only females bite!). As the mosquito is lured to the trap, they are captured by a suction vacuum and killed. Traps are environmentally friendly in that the do not use harsh chemcials (the Mosquito Magnet does emit octenol), and do not kill beneficial insects. The greatest benefit of a mosquito trap, however, is that it will intercept mosquitos as they move from neighboring properties to yours in search of a blood meal. Further, as the trap captures more and more mosquitoes, the breeding population in and around your property will collapse, reducing the number of future mosquitoes in the area. We recommend the Lentek Mosquito Trap as opposed to the Mosquito Magnet since independent tests show it is equally effective, but it costs far less than the Mosquito Magnet.