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Don’t Bother Me Mosquito!

2008 August 14

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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Working in the garden and enjoying the outdoors has many rewards. However, outdoor activities may come with some negatives—mosquito bites. Personally, I seem to be a mosquito magnet. No, I’m not talking about those modern contraptions that claim they’ll eliminate mosquitoes. Quite the contrary—whenever I go outside the mosquitoes seem to feast on me. I’ve tried using some natural remedies such as eating garlic, using musk oil, but they haven’t been very effective in my case. I have used insect repellents safely, but they have not been able to keep those pesky mosquitoes away for long. I wonder if some people are more prone to mosquito bites than others. My father works in the garden all day—no bites—nada. I walk outside to get the newspaper and come back with a bite or two. Not fair.

In the meantime, there are things we can do to control mosquitoes around the home. First of all, remove their habitat (where they live and breed). What does this mean? Eliminate standing water from rain gutters, old tires, buckets, etc. When we think of stagnant water as a breeding ground, we normally think of the big puddles. We rarely think of the little cracks in the pavement that will collect water after the rain. Do you know that a mosquito can lay its eggs in just a teaspoon of standing water?

There are several steps you can take deter biting insects. Make sure your home window screens are repaired. Wear long sleeves and long pants whenever possible. Stay indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. If necessary, use repellent safely.

When using insect repellents or any pesticide product, read the label first! Organic repellents have been successful measures for some people. One single action will not eliminate these pests from the face of the earth. Nonetheless, some of these tips may help you enjoy the outdoors more while protecting yourself and your family from mosquito bites. Have a nice summer.

¡No me moleste mosquito!

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

Trabajando en el jardín y disfrutando del aire libre tiene muchas recompensas. Sin embargo, algunas de las actividades exteriores pueden tener aspectos negativos, como las picaduras de mosquitos. Personalmente, soy un imán para los mosquitos. No estoy hablando de ningún invento moderno que se adjudica el poder de eliminar los mosquitos. Al contrario. Siempre que salgo parece que los mosquitos me comen viva. He tratado remedios naturales como comer ajo, usa aceite de almizcle, pero no han sido muy eficaces en mi caso. He usado repelentes de insectos de manera segura, pero no parecen haber apartado estos molestosos insectos por mucho tiempo. Me pregunto si algunas personas son más propensas a las picaduras de mosquitos que otros. Por ejemplo, mi padre puede pasar todo el día en el jardín—ni una picadura—nada. Yo salgo un momento a buscar el periódico y regreso a la casa con un par de picaduras. No es justo.

Mientras tanto, hay cosas que podemos hacer para controlar los mosquitos alrededor del hogar. En primer lugar, elimine su hábitat (donde ellos viven y se crían). ¿Qué significa? Elimine donde se pueda apozar el agua en los desagües, las llantas viejas, los cubos, etc. Cuando pensamos en lugares que pueden servir de criaderos, normalmente pensamos en grandes charcos. Rara es la vez que pensamos en las pequeñas grietas en el asfalto donde se puede acumular el agua después de llover. ¿Sabía que un mosquito puede poner huevos en tan sólo una cucharadita de agua apozada?

Hay varios pasos que puede tomar para evitar las picaduras de insectos. Asegúrese que las mallas sobre las ventanas estén en buenas condiciones. Use mangas y pantalones largos cuando sea posible. Evite salir al amanecer y el anochecer cuando los mosquitos están más activos. Si es necesario, use repelente de manera segura.

Cuando use repelentes de insecto o cualquier producto de pesticida, siempre ¡lea la etiqueta primero! Los repelentes orgánicos han sido eficaces para algunas personas. Ninguna acción singular eliminará estas plagas de la faz de la tierra. No obstante, he aquí algunos consejos que le ayudarán a disfrutar de actividades al aire libre mientras se protege a usted y a su familia de las picaduras de mosquito. Que tengan un verano feliz.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Linda permalink
    August 14, 2008

    If a teaspoon of water is enough for mosquto eggs to hatch in, then there’s no hope of controling them in my area; our home is located on the edge of a wetlands area in the deep south. Those little flying nuisances are active and biting for a large portion of the year, and because of the wetlands, I try very hard to avoid chemical pesticides. Given the climate, it’s sometimes imperative to be active outside in the early mornings or evenings, while it’s cool enough to do yard work, so I rely on herbal preparations; I’ve had good success using rosemary-scented soap that I make myself, but when the population is especially dense, I use an herbal insect repellant from Burt’s Bees.

    And yes, I’m convinced that some people get bitten a lot more than others; my husband seldom gets a bite, while I get swarmed. Either that or perhaps he’s not as sensitive to the bites and just doesn’t feel them for long.

  2. Bill S. permalink
    August 15, 2008

    I have lived in Bergen County, New Jersey, for 19 years, and this had been, without a doubt, the worst mosquito summer yet. It’s also been one of the wettest summers. Maybe not in terms of volume, but the rainfall in my particular area has been remarkably regular. From an environmental perspective, this has been excellent. Brooks are running late in the season, when they are typically dry or nearly so. Vegetation is lush. (I look forward to a long and splendid autumn.) There have been no dire warnings of drinking water shortages. And, mosquitoes are abundant. Mosquitoes love me as well. I’ve been averaging about two bites a day. I’ve noticed that physiologically, I seem to adjust—the inflammation and itchiness decline over time. I understand the disease potential and the extreme sensitivity of some individuals. And I believe protection is of the utmost importance. But I wouldn’t sacrifice the rain to be rid of the mosquitoes. Nature is and always will be a mixed blessing.

  3. oscar permalink
    September 1, 2008

    ME TOO!
    So bad I called Mosquito Magnet folks and asked them if they wanted a blood sample for research.

    Forget garlic. Use a DEET spray, spray your garden clothes too, becuase those little bastardos bite right through. Repels tics too. Wash off later.

  4. John permalink
    August 28, 2009

    Although DEET is a highly effective insect repellent you do have to be careful using it around kids and pregnant women as it can apparently increase the risk of birth defects.

    I much prefer some natural home remedies which I have tried and seem just as effective as DEET and other chemical insect repellents.

    You can use any number of these oils to repel mosquitoes including Lemon Eucalyptus Oil, Cinnamon Oil, Castor Oil, Rosemary Oil, Cedar Oil, Peppermint Oil, Clove Oil, and Geranium Oil.

    I have found Lemon Eucalyptus oil mixed with Castor oil is very affective although some oils work better at repelling particular mosquito species.

  5. Sage permalink
    March 9, 2010

    No other natural repellent works better than a fire…not very ideal for gardening in addition to using the oils mentioned above:

    Lemon Eucalyptus
    Cinnamon
    Castor
    Rosemary
    Cedar
    Peppermint – My Favorite
    Clove
    Geranium

    These oils also work well:

    Citronella
    Pine
    Basil
    Thyme
    Soybean
    Garlic – might be your best bet if you it

    I used to use the synthetic spray in the can, and honestly it works well. But the ramifications are long term and can be irreversible including sever rashes and allergic reactions, skin and lung cancer, as well as psychotic episodes, yes psychotic episodes.

    The risks are simply not worth immediate gratification. It is always safer to use what nature provides. There is a reason why synthetic sprays work so well. I always take the natural approach and play it safe.

  6. Natural Remedies permalink
    April 21, 2011

    I was tried lots of Natural Remedies in order to protect from Mosquitoes but nothing is working for me.
    sprays working once after that it is useless.

  7. Natural Insect Repellant permalink
    October 6, 2012

    “natural” insect repellents such as citronella, neem oil, and herbal extracts are no longer permitted for sale as insect repellents in the EU

    kind regards
    abluo-uk.co.uk

  8. amy permalink
    July 16, 2013

    the issue is not whether it is natural or not. the issue is whether it works. The research needs to be done on the natural products. And it actually is being done. Neem does work. it doesn’t last as long as DEET, but not everyone needs 8 hours of protection or will be able to wash it off as soon as they get out of the mosquito-y area. There are also niche markets for people who want a short acting mosquito repellent. I get 2-3 bites just taking out the garbage. I don’t want to put on DEET 2-3 times a day – everytime I run to the car or the bus. I want something that is going to be effective for up to an hour (I really only need 10 minutes probably but plans can change). And frankly I’ve used citronella and eucalyptus so much the smell makes me ill at this point.

  9. Gasafe Concorde permalink
    November 13, 2013

    Good Idea for Mosquito Magnet Repair

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