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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 Bite Prevention

This article was published originally on 6/14/2013

 Speaking of mosquito control (article elsewhere in this issue) here is a list of alleged mosquito bite preventions that don’t work: 

  • Citronella candles.  (Standing directly in the smoke reduces biting by approximately 40% while dispersed smoke is of no benefit.)
  • Mosquito repellent plant.   (Little if any Citronella is released by a stationary plant; leaves would have to be crushed to release the repellent.)
  • Purple martins. (Mosquitoes are insignificant in their diet.)
  • Bats.  (Bats eat a wide and varied diet of moths, beetles, gnats, mosquitoes and others.)
  • Ultraviolet or black lights “bug zappers.” (More beneficial insects than biting pests are caught.)
  • Sonic devices, including cell phone apps and other electronic mosquito repellents that allege to produce high-pitched sounds that mosquitoes don't like.  See BBC News Magazine, December 10, 2012.
  • Vitamin B, garlic, pepper and other dietary supplements.  (No research evidence of effectiveness.)

What does work?

  • Avoid outdoor activity during peak mosquito activity times: one hour before until one hour after sundown.
  • Wear light color and loose fitting clothing
  • Use personal repellents with a low to moderate concentration of active ingredient.  See the CDC website on repellents.
  • Use repellent sparingly to reduce unnecessary or excessive exposure.
  • Don’t apply repellent near eyes, on lips, or on broken skin
  • Apply to your face by spraying your palm and then spreading the repellent carefully
  • Don’t use near food
  • Wash repellent off with soap and water when it’s no longer needed.