The 10 Best Mosquito Repellents
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. The fastest way to spoil a lovely day in the sun is being bitten by pesky insects, not to mention the risk of nasty viruses like West Nile and Zika. But you can fight back with one of these mosquito repellents. Coming in both traditional DEET-based formulas and nontoxic sprays, patches, and bracelets, they offer solid protection from many pests. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best mosquito repellent on Amazon.
Choosing And Using Mosquito Repellent
But many people try to avoid the compound as they are worried about using chemicals directly on their skin, thus the prevalence of many other types of repellents.
Many people swear by repellent devices that generate ultrasonic sound waves that insects find untenable and from which they will fly away.
There is more than one way to repel a mosquito, and you might have to try out various methods before you find one that works well enough for you and your family, not to mention for the circumstances specific to your area. Mosquito prevalence can be impacted by everything from the time of year and the latitude of your home to the factors near your property (or place of business or work site) including the presence of lakes, rivers, or streams, developed areas, or tracts of wilderness.
To put it simply, a mosquito repellent that works for one person might not work for another; even a single individual may need to use various types of repellent at different times. Many experts agree that the single best type of mosquito repellent is one that contains plenty of DEET, also known by its less concise name, diethyltoluamide. DEET is largely considered safe for application directly to the skin, and has been shown to activate an olfactory neuron in mosquitoes that compels them to flee the source of the smell.
In other words, mosquitoes hate DEET. But many people try to avoid the compound as they are worried about using chemicals directly on their skin, thus the prevalence of many other types of repellents.
Many people swear by repellent devices that generate ultrasonic sound waves that insects find untenable and from which they will fly away. These devices create the least impact for their user, as the frequency is well out of the range the human ear can detect, and they produce no unpleasant smell and leave no residues that can require washing or laundry. These devices do require batteries, though, and might not create that large of a buffer area.
Other scent spray and cream options eschew DEET in favor of more natural substances such as cedar oil, citrus oils, and extract from the citronella plant, a celebrated natural insect repellent. Most natural repellents do offer decent success rates, but tend to require much more frequent reapplication than a DEET-based mosquito repellent.
Yet another option is to try out a wrist or ankle band infused with oils and extracts that mosquitoes are known to dislike.
Other Steps That Help Prevent Pests
Mosquito repellent is one of the best ways to prevent mosquito bites. But reducing the likelihood of mosquitoes even coming near you is also important in keeping these pests at bay.
Traps used in coordination with other methods of prevention and repellents are a smart move for people in areas prone to large mosquito populations.
The single most important step a person can take in terms of mosquito population control is to make sure they never leave standing water pooled anywhere around their property. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, and it is in still pools that their larvae grow. A single breeding pair of mosquitoes can produce thousands of offspring in a matter of weeks, so preventing them from successfully laying eggs near you and your family is of paramount importance.
And indeed it is effective: many mosquitoes travel only a few hundred feet in their lifetimes, and almost none range more than a mile or two. The more effort you and your community members put into clearing standing water, the fewer mosquitoes you will have to face.
Mosquitoes are notoriously weak fliers, which is much to the advantage of the human being with technology on his or her side. The positioning of fans that blow air across a patio, porch, or deck can do much to keep mosquitoes at bay. Most mosquitoes can only fly at about 1.5 miles per hour, so even a light breeze produced by an oscillating tower fan can help clear the air, so to speak.
You can also use traps that lure in and then kill mosquitoes to help clear localized areas of these insects. Some rely on carbon dioxide to attract them, while others use sugars to draw in the pests. Traps used in coordination with other methods of prevention and repellents are a smart move for people in areas prone to large mosquito populations.
A Closer Look At A Winged Menace
Every plant, animal, and mineral has its place in the natural balance of the eco system. While mosquitoes might seem like little more than bloodsucking pests, they also serve as an abundant food source for everything from fish who feast on the larvae, to certain species of frogs, spiders, and birds, who devour adult insects.
They do cause their share of sickness and frustration, though.
Many types of mosquitoes also play a role in pollination; male mosquitoes tend to derive their nutrients from plant nectar (or other sources of sugars, such as a can of soda), not from blood. And of the thousands of known varieties of mosquitoes found around the world, not all species even rely on parasitic bloodsucking for nourishment.
That said, as far as most humans are concerned, mosquitoes are nothing more than pests. And indeed they don't serve humanity in any direct capacity. They do cause their share of sickness and frustration, though. The most recent example of the woes mosquitoes inflict on humans concerns the ongoing outbreak of the Zika virus that is plaguing much of the Americas.
This is just the latest in a string of often recurrent ills spread by mosquitoes. The most well-documented (and often most serious) diseases these pests spread include Yellow Fever, West Nile Virus, and Dengue Fever. No sickness spread by mosquitoes, however, has caused so much suffering and death as Malaria, an infectious disease that kills as many as a half million people each year–even in the modern era–and sickens tens of millions annually.
The only way to reliably protect oneself against an infection caused by a mosquito's bite is to avoid that bite in the first place through the faithful use of mosquito repellents and by reducing the likelihood of mosquito contact with screens, fans, and other measures.
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