Let's face it - nobody really like mosquitoes. Although we love the great outdoors, much of our time outside is spent unsuccessfully warding off biting pests.
From cheap as chips to not so much, there's a range of products out there for repelling mosquitoes, and the average Canadian has probably tried most of them.
Here's a quick guide to the types of products you should just scratch off the shopping list.
Candles or tiki torches contain citronella oil and are released as a smoke, which confuses mosquitoes and hinders their ability to smell the carbon dioxide and lactic acids that attract them to you.
Although they do keep mosquitoes away, they only do so within a 2 metre range, which is the length of your average basketballer lying down on the ground. When you think of it like that, that's not a lot of area. And who wants to be drinking beers and eating potato chips outside with potentially toxic fumes all up in your face? And if there's any kind of breeze, just forget about it; your tiki torch ain't gonna work.
This perennial is marketed as a mosquito plant, due to fragrant leaves that apparently repel mosquitoes. There have been a number of studies disputing their effectiveness, including a study at the University of Guelph in Ontario. Canadian scientists found that when subjects put their arm in a cage with a plant, mosquitoes were just as likely to bite them had there not been a plant in the cage.
When something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Instead of being an effective mosquito control solution, this is just a classic case of marketing done right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it).
Although you see them hanging in patios all across the world, electric insect traps are unfortunately pretty pointless. Instead of attracting mosquitoes, they attract hundreds of non-biting insects instead.
Mosquitoes are attracted to smells, and unfortunately the light doesn't do much for them, unlike the multitude of harmless insects that these things kill.
While they certainly do kill some mosquitoes, they kill a much higher number of beneficial insects while they're at it, and aren't an adequate long term solution for controlling mosquitoes. One study showed that of the insects killed by a bug zapper, only 0.13% were female mosquitoes; those responsible for biting us and spreading viruses.
A cost-efficient and readily available option, mosquito coils produce a smoke which confuses the mosquito's strong sense of smell. While they do provide some short-range protection, like tiki torches, mosquito coils aren't so effective if there is much wind, so are only worthwhile in particular conditions.
It has also been suggested that the smoke released is potentially dangerous to our health, and burning one mosquito coil releases the same amount of particulate matter as burning 75-137 cigarettes. Yikes.
Then What Does Work?
If you're going to give yourself any chance of avoiding mosquito bites, you need to at least be doing the fundamentals. In other words, you need to remember the 3 D's of mosquito control; Drain, Dress, and Defend.
Firstly, female mosquitoes need water to breed more baby mosquitoes, so if you have any areas of stagnant water around your yard, just get rid of it. All they need is an inch, so drain any types of containers that could potentially cary water after a night of heavy rainfall.
Secondly, it's important to dress smart; and I'm not talking suit-and-tie smart. Avoid wearing dark colours including blue; mosquitoes find it easier to see these colours, so white, yellow, or pastels are your best bet if you're hanging around outside. Tight weave isn't a problem either, so opt for loose and long-sleeved clothes whenever you can. Plus, if you need to be outside a lot for work, there are protective clothing options that are impregnated with permethrin, a highly effective mosquito repellent. Marketed under the name of Insect Shield, these clothes retain their repellency for up to 70 washes, so are great when you know you're a mosquito magnet.
Thirdly, topical repellents can help protect your skin from mosquito bites, so try to keep a few bottles handy in your backyard; but make note of the active ingredient. DEET is the industry standard.
For a longer term and worry-free solution, nothing beats professional barrier protection. At Mosquito.buzz, our licensed and trained technicians visit your property every 21 days, targeting the areas that mosquitoes live, rest, and hide. Our control products are released in a mist, and are safe for use around humans and pets.