There are many options for killing mosquitoes while still enjoying the great outdoors. Here are 5 possible interventions you should consider to help get rid of mosquitoes:
1. Mosquito Candles
Mosquito candles are specially designed to include citronella oil and/or geraniol. Citronella oil is found in lemongrass and geraniol is found in geranium oil. Researchers have been investigating the insect-repellent properties of these compounds for many years.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that Citronella oil has been known as an insect repellent for over 50 years. Studies conducted by researchers at the University of Florida suggest that geraniol can also be an effective insect repellent.
Mosquito candles are designed to burn for up to 36 hours, and while the oils they burn do help stave off mosquitoes, researchers at North Dakota State University suggest that the candles are not effective in open areas. That’s common sense because the odors emitted from the burning candles in an open space are blown around with the whim of the wind. If you’re upwind from the candle, you’re out of luck.
Newer candles called Conceal Candles burn a substance - a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved food additive - that effectively prevents mosquitoes from smelling. The substance binds to the mosquito’s olfactory receptors, making it much less likely for them to find you. But you still have to place enough of these candles between you and the wilderness, and you’ll still want to use other methods for killing mosquitoes while using these candles.
2. Bug Zappers
Bug zappers have been around more than 100 years. Popular Mechanics published a design of an “electric death trap for the fly” in 1911, but it wasn’t patented until 1934. Modern zappers work by attracting the unwanted bugs with a fluorescent light. Surrounding the light is an electrified wire mesh.
When a bug is attracted to the light and flies toward it, the hapless insect eventually comes in contact with the wire. The voltage in the wire is sufficient to kill, if not obliterate, the bug.
The problem with using bug zappers to thwart mosquitoes is that it’s unclear if mosquitoes are really attracted to them. In one study, researchers from the University of Notre Dame showed that mosquitoes represented about 5 percent of the insects killed by a zapper, but there was no significant difference between the number of mosquitoes in yards that had or did not have zappers.
Based on the evidence, it’s best to consider approaches other than zappers to protect yourself from or kill mosquitoes.
3. Mosquito Repellent
One of the more effective ways to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes is to use a proven repellent. The most common of these in the United States includes the chemical N,N-diethyl-3-meta-toluamide, better known as DEET.
DEET is probably the most studied chemical compound used to help avoid mosquito bites. Personal sprays and creams are available with DEET concentrations ranging from 5 percent to up to 100 percent. The duration of effectiveness increases with the concentration.
You have to apply DEET-based repellents carefully, being sure to cover all exposed areas and avoiding eyes and mucous membranes. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicate that swallowing small amounts may results in nausea and vomiting, while larger ingestions may result in low blood pressure and low heart rates.
But worse, ingestion in large amounts has been shown to cause neurologic problems. These can include seizures and falling into a coma, which can result in death. This concern is obviously great for small children, who may unwittingly consume the repellent directly, or indirectly by repeatedly putting their hands in their mouths. The NIH reports that small children may suffer seizures simply from consistent skin exposure to DEET.
Certain sprays can be used as repellents to keep a limited area free of mosquitoes for a limited time. Some of these use DEET while others rely on different repellents. A typical area of effect for these repellents is about 225 square feet. That’s about 15 feet by 15 feet.
If you are camping and restricting your movements to your campsite, 225 square feet might do it for you. But if you expect to protect a larger area, you’ll need more spray or more devices that distribute the repellent, and you’ll need to keep in mind how long they may stay effective.
4. Mosquito Nets
Nets are a cheap way to put a barrier between you and mosquitoes. But they’re not particularly portable. Nets can be useful to protect you while sleeping in a bed or sleeping bag, and while eating, but they aren’t really going to be a general solution to the mosquito problem.
What’s more, every time you leave and enter your netted area, you are exposing that area to the possibility of mosquito invasion. It’s great in theory to think that the net will keep all the mosquitoes out, but in practice few people likely have the patience to stay under their nets all the time. Essentially you become something of a prisoner under the netting, itching to escape.
In addition, you may find that a net may be damaged and have holes that are large enough for mosquitoes to come and go. In that case, you may reduce your exposure by using the netting but not eliminate the possibility that you’ll be on the dinner menu.
5. Mosquito Magnet® Trap
A nice alternative that addresses many of the problems indicated above is the Mosquito Magnet® Trap. This is the leading long-term solution that’s scientifically proven to safely and effectively control mosquitoes. More than 18 years of research and patented technology make this approach to stopping mosquitoes revolutionary.
The trap is powered by propane. It converts the propane to carbon dioxide (Co2) and then emits the gas from the trap with the right balance of heat and moisture to mimic our own exhaled breath. This lures the mosquitoes to the vicinity of the trap.
A secondary attractant is used to bring the mosquitoes directly to the trap. These attractants differ depending on your geographic location, but once in the vicinity of the trap, mosquitoes are sucked inside by a vacuum located near the exhaust vent. It’s called Counterflow™ Technology. The mosquitoes cannot escape the trap and eventually die of dehydration within 24 hours.
One of the great advantages of the Mosquito Magnet® trap is the area of coverage: Up to 1 acre! That’s approximately an area 210 feet by 210 feet or about three-quarters the size of a football field. It’s truly impractical to attempt to get rid of mosquitoes in an area this large by any of the previous methods.
Some models of the Mosquito Magnet® trap offer different modes to help save propane use, while the top-of-the-line Mosquito Magnet Commander model includes a Wi-Fi feature that allows you to monitor the trap status via email or text messaging.
The trap should be placed in between mosquito breeding areas and your access areas. Ideally, it should be placed upwind from the breeding area so that mosquitoes that have fed and then drift downwind will wind up closer to the trap.
You won’t want to place the trap close to yourself or others because the idea is to draw the mosquitoes away from people and toward the trap. You’ll want to place it in an open area to increase the exposure of the carbon dioxide as it flows from the trap. You want to give mosquitoes the best chance to find the carbon dioxide.
Finally, you’ll want to place the trap in a shady spot if possible. Mosquitoes tend to avoid direct sunlight, so you’ll maximize the odds of catching them around the clock if your trap isn’t in the heat of the sun.
Choose the Best Option to Get Rid of Mosquitoes
You have many options to help you kill mosquitoes and in turn avoid the diseases that they transmit. These include the following:
- Candles that burn repellent
- Bug zappers
- Repellent sprays and creams
Bug zappers can work effectively on flies and other bothersome insects but are generally ineffective against mosquitoes. Repellent-burning candles are a better choice, but offer only limited protection in a small area or downwind of the candle.
Nets are more reliable, but while they are doing the job of keeping mosquitoes from getting to you, they also prevent you from getting outside and enjoying the great outdoors.
Repellent sprays have only limited effectiveness and work for a limited duration in a small area. Using DEET-based or other effective repellent creams on exposed skin may be a much better solution, and the duration of protection can be determined based on the concentration of the repellent in the cream.
Still, personal repellent creams come with downside and risk. You have to cover all exposed areas to be effective, and it’s crucial to avoid getting the repellent in your eyes, mucous membranes, or ingesting it. DEET poisoning can range from unpleasant nausea and vomiting to serious conditions including seizures, neurological disorders, and even death. If you use DEET, use the minimum required concentration that helps protect you.
A Long Term Solution: Mosquito Magnet®
Mosquito traps, like the Mosquito Magnet®, are a good alternative to the other methods for treating an open area. The traps emit carbon dioxide and are regulated for heat and moisture. This attracts mosquitoes to the trap, where they are sucked inside and eventually die.
The Mosquito Magnet® runs on propane, which is a cheap and easy-to-manage fuel source. You’ll only need to replace the fuel source once every three weeks, along with the attractant and the net that catches the mosquitoes.
Most importantly, the Mosquito Magnet® trap can address mosquito populations, not just individual mosquitoes, and break the mosquitoes’ breeding cycle.
When using a trap, it’s good to start the trap before mosquitoes start to breed. Mosquito eggs start hatching when the temperature consistently exceeds 50 degrees Fahrenheit. That means the farther south you are in the continental USA, the earlier in the year you’ll want to start your trap.
If you’re in Southern Florida, you should begin in February, about the same time spring training for baseball starts or a little sooner. If you’re in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, you can probably wait until early May.
For more information, compare our traps or visit the Mosquito Magnet® store.
Protect your family, pets and guests from disease-carrying mosquitoes with a Mosquito Magnet® trap - the leading long-term,
scientifically proven mosquito control solution