How Mosquitoes Work

Mosquito Repellents

The best way to reduce mosquito-borne diseases is through mosquito control and personal protection. You can do a few things to reduce the number of mosquito bites that you get while enjoying the outdoors. First, wear clothing that covers most of your body, if temperatures permit. Second, use a mosquito repellent that contains NN-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) at a concentration of 7.5 percent to 100 percent. Lower concentrations are sufficient for most outdoor protection, and a 15-percent concentration is recommended for children. Avon's original Skin-So-Soft is a weak, short-lasting (less than 20 minutes) mosquito repellent, although there are newer Skin-So-Soft formulations that include EPA-recognized insect repellents. Permethrin, an effective pesticide, is for use on clothing only (Never apply it to your skin, it is a neurotoxin!). To learn more about mosquito repellents, see the EPA's How to Use Insect Repellents Safely.

Beyond mosquito repellents and clothing, you can try to control the mosquito population. Mosquitoes need water to breed and will use any source of standing water.

So, to reduce the mosquito population, eliminate sources of standing water in your yard. Empty watering cans, remove old tires and cover rain barrels.

If you have a lily pond in your garden, stock it with some fish that will eat the mosquito larvae. Some petroleum oils can be added to water to form a thin surface layer that suffocates the mosquito eggs; however, many of these oils will also suffocate any fish living in the water.

To prevent mosquitoes from entering your home, make sure that all of your window screens are intact.

Finally, there are many commercial pesticides available to kill mosquito larvae and mosquito adults. Many communities conduct large-scale spraying of pesticides containing mallothione to control mosquito populations during the spring and summer, especially in attempts to reduce the spread of West Nile encephalitis. Another option is a device like a Mosquito Magnet, which lures and traps mosquitoes.

For more information on mosquitoes and what you can do about them, see the links on the next page.