This time of year, it seems like everyone has a sure fire method of outsmarting mosquitoes. Funny thing, though, they all seem to be scratching bug bites when they share their expertise with you.
The fact of the matter is that mosquitoes are called pests for a reason. They’re hard to get rid of, which explains why there are so many solutions out there for you to choose from. Some work, some don’t. We thought we’d take a few minutes to highlight some of the more popular choices and try to find the line between myth and effectiveness.
We all agree that bug sprays on the arms, neck and legs do a reasonable job of protecting us individually. That said, we’re going to focus on the choices you have for keeping the 30 or so species of mosquitoes found in Virginia out of your yard and off your deck.
General consensus is that mosquito misting systems do not work. Aside from their ineffectiveness, however, they are also hazardous to the health of your family. After all, they rely on spraying 30-60 second bursts of insecticide into the air around your backyard. Many are acutely toxic.
The wide diversity of mosquito species and their different behavior patterns make misting the least effective method of mosquito control.
Citronella and smoke coils do actually repel mosquitoes, but there’s a catch. You have to stay firmly within the smoke plumes for them to do any good. Simply lighting torches or candles in a perimeter around your deck or yard isn’t enough.
In fact, Dr. Robert Novak of the University of Illinois tested these products for ABC News. He reported that when smoke from a coil covered a human test subject’s shin, the mosquitoes flew around the subject’s leg and bit them on the calf. So we’re going to call this solution ineffective.
The good news is that bug zappers kill A LOT of bugs. The bad news is that not many of them are mosquitoes. The even worse news is that most bugs that zappers primarily kill beneficial insects like moths and butterflies. The EVEN worse news is that the UV light from the bug zappers makes any water in the area extremely easy for mosquitoes to find and then use for laying eggs because it makes the water appear polarized. The outright gross news is that since bug zappers are designed to explode bugs rather than just kill them, it’s not uncommon for small bits of bug to end up on you or in your food. Ew.
So it appears that zappers are great for killing bugs, just not mosquitoes.
Yellow bug light bulbs
This one is interesting because the yellow colored light doesn’t repel mosquitoes, it’s actually invisible to them so it just doesn’t attract them. The vision of flying insects is restricted more toward the shorter blue and ultraviolet wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum so they simply have no idea that your lights are on with these.
A side benefit here is that by not attracting mosquitoes at all, you also won’t attract spiders, which means you won’t be rushing out the door only to run face first into a spider web. We like that. Yellow bulbs = effective.
Simply put, they don’t work. Seriously, don’t even bother with these things. The explanations behind them make it seem like they should, but they don’t. 15 years of research has resoundingly proven this to be true. Please stop anyone you see getting ready to buy one of these devices and tell them not to.
There are a wide variety of mosquito traps on the market, but the common operational feature among all of them is that they mimic the cues given off by humans in some way. Most commonly, this is done by emitting carbon dioxide through the combustion of propane or from cartridges. Mosquitoes are attracted to the scent and then disposed of within the trap, either by sticky boards, electric current or net.
Mosquito traps are effective to a point but don’t be fooled by claims that they will wipe out populations within a full acre. They will reduce populations, but much of their effectiveness will depend on factors such as the original size of the population, weather, breeding habitats close by, even species. So while traps do work, they’re best paired with a good personal repellant spray.
A company in Fargo, North Dakota, has developed a product that can be added to your existing or new irrigation system. The product, SKEET-R-GONE, is a non-toxic repellant that comes in a quart-sized concentrate and is activated manually when your irrigation system is running.
In addition to its non-toxicity, it differs from misting systems because it is mixed with the water and therefore is less prone to wind drift. Depending on the number of zones in your yard, the entire lawn can be treated in minutes whenever you see a noticeable increase in mosquito population. Anecdotal evidence across independent reviews on the web indicate that this product is effective.
So there you have it, a somewhat thorough review of the options available to you for mosquito control. We hope it helps you choose the option that will work best for you and perhaps even save you some money. If you have solutions that have worked for you in the past, we’d love to share them with our readers, so let us know in the comments below.