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Horticulture and Home Pest News
Horticulture & Home Pest News is filled with articles on current horticulture, plant care, pest management, and common household pests written by Iowa State University Extension specialists in the Departments of Entomology, Horticulture and Plant Pathology.

Mosquito Repellents are the Way to Go

This article was published originally on 8/25/2010

 
The mosquitoes this summer have hit all time highs and have been a real deterrent to working in the garden. Mosquito population trends for the summer have reached four times the number from last year. See Dr Bartholomay's ISU Mosquito Surveillance website for more information.
 
It is too late in the season for home-owner mosquito management actions to have much effect. Eliminating all possible water sources* that the mosquitoes could use for their development may reduce the number produced on your property, but not those blowing in the wind from outside your property lines. Floodwater mosquitoes (the most common biters) have no respect for property lines and easily can fly several miles from where they developed. That's why the most effective mosquito management programs are those that involve an entire community or encompass a large area.
 
(*Drain, clean or eliminate cans, buckets, tires, bird baths, wading pools and other objects that hold water; fill or drain low-lying areas that hold water following a rain.)
 
Personal protection remains the most practical way of contending with mosquitoes for the remainder of the year.  Avoid the areas and times of day when mosquitoes are most active if you can, and wear long, heavy-knitted clothing. Apply mosquito repellents sparingly but thoroughly prior to going outside and wash thoroughly when you return inside. 
 
The CDC suggests that you use any of several EPA registered products that have been shown to provide reasonably long-lasting protection. For most people, a low-concentration product will be sufficient for short intervals out-of-doors. Those working outside longer can benefit from a higher concentration of active ingredient, or repeated applications as needed. EPA-registered products contain one of the following active ingredients:

  • DEET
  • Picaridin
  • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
  • IR3535

 See the CDC website on Insect Repellents for more recommendations.   
 
Consumer Reports magazine, July, 2010, reviewed mosquito repellents and found that, "most of the tested products will do the job if you're going to be outside for only a couple of hours."    See the Consumer Reports website for more details.
 
Also listen to a Consumer Reports podcast about the OFF Clip-On Repellent.  Their conclusion was that the clip-on, fan-powered repellent did not work very well at keeping mosquitoes away from test subjects wearing the device in an enclosed cage of mosquitoes. CR recommends that you choose a topical repellent for better results.