Protecting Yourself From Mosquitoes
Eliminate Mosquito Breeding Areas
Mosquitoes breed in standing water. So the first, most important step in controlling them is to find all of the places where water can accumulate on your property. You can help reduce the mosquito population around your home since some mosquitoes, such as the Asian tiger mosquito or the Southern house mosquito, typically fly only a few hundred feet from their breeding areas.
Get rid of and prevent standing water:
Have old tires, cans, bottles or other items that are holding standing water? Recycle them!
- Get rid of places where adult mosquitoes can find cool, dark, and damp areas to rest by mowing the lawn, trimming shrubbery, and cutting down weeds and vines, such as ivy, in the yard and next to the house.
- Clear out weeds, leaves, dirt, and other debris from pipes, especially those under a driveway. Make sure that water does not stand inside or near the ends of the pipe.
- Clean out rain gutters and downspouts regularly. Clogged gutters are one of the most overlooked breeding sites for mosquitoes around homes.
- Empty and turn over containers that hold water such as cans, jars, drums, bottles, flower pots, buckets, children's toys, wheel barrows, old appliances, plastic sheeting or tarps used to cover objects like grills or swimming pools, etc.
- Drain or fill any low places, such as potholes, on your property where water collects and stands for more than 5 to 7 days.
- Make sure that all permanent water containers such as wells, septic tanks, cisterns, water tanks, and cesspools are tightly covered and insect-proof.
- Repair leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.
- Cover trash containers/garbage cans to keep rainwater from accumulating.
- Keep boats and canoes drained and covered/overturned. Make sure that tarps or other covers do not hold water.
- Drain or get rid of old tires by recycling them. -Drill holes in tire swings so rainwater will drain out.
- Pack tree holes and hollow stumps with sand or cement.
Treat Water That Can't Be Drained
- Stock ornamental pools/ponds with mosquito-eating minnows, and keep vegetation trimmed from the edge of the pond.
- Larvicides: For small areas of water that can't be drained, use mosquito control products, such as mosquito dunks. Look for products at your local lawn and garden or home improvement store that will interrupt mosquitoes breeding cycle and that contain an active ingredient such as Bti ( Bacillus thuringiensis israeli ) or methoprene that will not harm humans, animals, fish, or vegetation when used as directed.
- Change the water in bird baths (and flower cuttings) at least once a week.
- Clean out and change the water in your pet's water bowl or trough every day.
- Maintain swimming pools with proper pool chemicals or drain them completely if they are not in use.
- Completely empty and clean out children's wading pools at least once a week. Keep children's wading pools empty and on their side when not in use.
- Place screens over rain barrels so that adult female mosquitoes cannot lay eggs there.
Wear insect repellent or protective clothing.
- Yes! It is safe. When used as directed, insect repellent is the BEST way to protect yourself from mosquito bites—even children and pregnant women should protect themselves.
- DEET: Products containing DEET include Cutter, OFF!, Skintastic.
- Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin): Products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan outside the United States).
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD: Repel contains OLE.
- IR3535: Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart.
- More repellent information
- Wear an insect repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be outdoors.
- Children usually do not notice mosquito bites while engaged in play. Make sure children are protected with mosquito repellent.
- Treat clothing with a repellent as directed on the label to provide temporary protection. Never apply a repellent underneath clothing.
- Treat clothing with permethrin as directed on the label to provide protection even through several wash cycles.
- Wear light-colored clothing rather than dark colors.
- Wear a long sleeved shirt and long trousers made of tightly woven fabrics.
- Tuck the pants' cuffs into your socks or boots.
- To protect infants, use white-colored mosquito netting made of cotton or nylon with 23 to 26 mesh per inch.
Keep Mosquitoes Out
- Keep car windows rolled up and garage doors closed at night.
- Make sure to use screens (16-18 mesh per inch), in good condition, on windows and doors. Screen doors should open outward and close automatically.
- Use air conditioning.
Most mosquito species bite during dawn, dusk, twilight hours, and night. However, some species bite during the day, especially in wooded or other shaded areas. Avoid exposure during these times and in these areas. Avoid wearing perfume or scented products.
Insecticides and Outdoor Area Treatments
- Use yellow light bulbs or sodium vapor orange lights for outside lighting.
- For temporary relief outdoors, use a small hand-held fogger (not a garden sprayer) made for mosquito control. The foggers come with a special insecticide. Use it a few hours before an outdoor activity is planned, but fogging will not be effective on a windy day. When used as directed, it should kill the mosquitoes that are flying in the area at the time. Twilight is the most effective time to use a fogger outdoors.
- Heat-activated repellent pads or mosquito coils may be somewhat effective in repelling mosquitoes in a small area such as a patio. Read and follow all label directions.
- Citronella smoke can reduce the number of mosquito bites - but only for people who stand very close to the candle or Tiki torch.
Home Remedy Myths
- Electrocuting devices or bug zappers that use ultraviolet light to attract bugs are not effective against mosquitoes. Bug zappers mainly kill beneficial moths, beetles, and other harmless night-flying insects.
- The Citrosa plant does not contain citronella. It is actually a scented geranium that does not repel mosquitoes.
- Devices that use ultrasonic waves to repel mosquitoes do not work.
- Garlic or taking garlic pills by mouth do not repel mosquitoes.
Protect Pets from Deadly Heartworms
Mosquitoes carry diseases that can harm you and your pets too. Heartworm a potentially deadly parasite that can be transmitted to pets from mosquitoes. It is a filarial worm (nematode) that can clog the heart and major blood vessels leading from the heart, which reduces the blood supply and oxygen to organs.
The number one way to protect your pet from heartworm is with preventive medicine. Cats cannot be treated for heartworms, so prevention is the key. Your veterinarian can prescribe medicine to prevent heartworms. Do not give your cat the same medicine your dog gets for heartworm prevention, as their needs are different. Using medicine to prevent heartworms is a much better option than having to treat your pet for heartworms, which can cause severe toxic reactions in your pet.
Local Mosquito Control Programs
If you have done all you can to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home, but are still bothered by them, they may be breeding somewhere beyond your property. Contact your local mosquito program for help.
- The American Mosquito Control Association
- South Carolina Mosquito Control Association
- Using Pesticides Safely, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Pesticide Programs
- Homeowner Pesticide Information, Clemson University Department of Entomology's Pesticide Information Program
- Find the Repellent That is Right For You
- Barnard DR, Xue RD. Laboratory evaluation of mosquito repellents against Aedes albopictus , Culex nigripalpus , and Ochlerotatus triseriatus (Diptera: Culicidae). J Med Entomol. 2004;41(4):726-30.
- Barnard DR, et al. Repellency of IR3535, KBR3023, para-menthane-3,8-diol, and DEET to Black Salt March mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) in the Everglades National Park. J Med Entomol. 2002; 39(6): 895-899.
- Fradin MS, Day JF. Comparative efficacy of insect repellents against mosquito bites. N Engl J Med. 2002; 347(1):13-8.
- Thavara U et al. Laboratory and field evaluations of the insect repellents 3535 (ethyl butyletylaminopropionate) and DEET against mosquito vectors in Thailand. J of Am Mosq Cont Assoc. 2001, 17(3):190-195.