Home & Family
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Ah, the sweet smell of bug spray. Summer heat and mosquitoes go together like bread and butter. With mosquito activity at its peak, now is the time to take steps to prevent the blood-sucking nuisance pests.
No matter what time of day, indoors or outdoors, mosquitoes can strike. Alabama Extension Entomologist Xing Ping Hu said aside from being itchy and annoying, mosquitoes can also transmit fatal diseases. This makes preventing mosquito bites, whether at home or traveling, even more important.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the primary mosquito-bite prevention methods include:
- Cover up by wearing protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Avoid high-arthropod areas
- Try to keep mosquitoes outside
- Use EPA-approved mosquito repellent products
The most popular method is to grab for the next bottle of mosquito repellent on the shelf. There are two general categories of insect repellents: synthetic chemicals and natural products in the form of plant extracts. Whichever you choose, it is important to buy one that is EPA-approved.
“EPA registration of repellent products indicates that they have been evaluated and approved for human safety and effectiveness when applied according to instructions on the label,” Hu said.
In addition to being EPA-approved, look for one of these seven ingredients in repellents recommended by the CDC.
- Plant-based chemicals
- P-Menthane-3, 8-diol (PMD)
- Oil of citronella, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or Hydrogenated catmint oil (HCO)
“Keep in mind that the effectiveness of any repellent is dependent on a number of factors,” Hu said. “These factors can include different temperatures and environmental conditions, different species of mosquitoes and individual attractiveness of mosquitoes to people.”
Therefore, picking the best repellent for you or your family can often be a trial and error process.
“Take into account the degree of protection provided, longevity, individual sensitivities to odor and comfort of the product on one’s skin,” Hu said.
Tips and Tricks
While testing out repellents, follow these tips recommended by Hu:
- Always follow the product label instruction.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- DO NOT spray repellent on the skin under clothing, only sparingly apply to exposed skin.
- Never use repellents on wounds or irritated skin.
- DO NOT inhale or ingest repellents or get them into eyes.
- Avoid using high-concentration products (>50 percent Deet).
- If you are also wearing sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- Always wash repellent-treated skin after coming indoors.
- For children under three years old, DO NOT use products containing OLE or PMD.
For more information about mosquitoes, visit the Alabama Extension website, www.aces.edu.