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Q&A: How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes

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Mosquitoes are a pain throughout the year but are found aplenty during the summer. They’re bothersome and dangerous, spreading diseases like malaria, West Nile Virus and Yellow Fever, which can be life threatening to humans and livestock. So it goes without saying that getting rid of mosquitoes is a top priority for home and business owners.

We sat down with Mike the Mosquito Man,’s mosquito guru, to ask him the best ways to get rid of mosquitoes this season. Here are his thoughts on the best mosquito killers around: Hi Mike. Good to see you again.

Mike: Good to see you, too. So what’s new on the mosquito front these days?

Mike: Glad you asked. A lot. Did you hear the monster mosquitoes have returned to Florida? Sure did. Sounds crazy!

Mike: It really is. But there are ways to get rid of mosquitoes – even these. Great. That’s exactly what we want to talk about today. What is the best way to get rid of mosquitoes?

Mike: Well, there are a number of ways. Which ones you choose depend on the severity of the mosquito problem and your preference for treating it. Let’s start with the one we know best: mosquito repellents. These are the sprays you buy at the drug store and coat yourself with from head to toe every time you step outside. Right? (laughing) Right.

Mike: (laughing) When you remember to use it. So these sprays are pretty effective. But there’s a growing concern about their safety. DEET is the biggie. It’s a really great repellent, but some studies on these products point to the possibility of adverse health effects if used in large doses. In fact, manufacturers of DEET-containing products advise consumers to wash it off immediately after coming inside and to use a smaller concentration on children under 13, and not at all on infants under 6 months. Hmm, sounds like mosquito sprays aren’t the best solution then.

Mike: Maybe not. But there are newer sprays and lotions on the market with much safer ingredients. Those with Picaridin, oil of lemon and eucalyptus are safe for daily use. They may not be as strong as DEET-based repellents, so you’d need to reapply more often. What about people who don’t want to apply mosquito repellents to their skin. What should they use?

Mike: They have lots of options. The first method they may want to consider is using natural ingredients to make an herbal repellent or mist. I mentioned lemon, but cinnamon, cedarwood, garlic, thyme, peppermint, basil – all of these have properties that act as mosquito repellents. And there’s always the ‘ol citronella candle. Keep one on your back patio or deck for evening cookouts. These are a good start, although they may not provide the most consistent protection. I see. So what if we want natural and consistent?

Mike: Some companies now sell mosquito misting systems and diffusers that use these ingredients. The ALLCLEAR line is one example. And there are others. The mixture includes things you’d find in your kitchen, but the distribution technology is more advanced. They can keep mosquitoes away from a designated area for a set amount of time. OK, so what about the standard fare of mosquito control systems?

Mike: You mean like traps and foggers … stuff like that? Or fly paper.

Mike: (laughs) Don’t knock the fly paper. It works! Well, CO2 traps have been around since the mid ’90s. Foggers a bit longer. These products have been used for some time. But to understand the challenges of these systems you have to understand how they work. The traps emit a CO2 solution, similar to the gas we humans exhale, which is what attracts mosquitoes to us. When the mosquitoes get close, a vacuum system sucks them into the trap and holds them there until they die. It can take weeks or months to kill off a local mosquito population.

The problem with traps is that not all mosquitoes are attracted to the same chemicals. And in the case of the Asian Tiger Mosquito, which is more active during the day, they may be more attracted to visual stimuli than to scents anyway. So you don’t get total control. You’d have to really know which mosquito species you’re dealing with.

Foggers do a pretty good job knocking down the adult mosquito population, but you don’t control breeding as well. You’re also talking about spraying a large amount of insecticide across your property with little to no targeting. So if you want to get rid of mosquitoes completely, you’d need to use the fogger along with a larvicide in breeding areas.

The real problem with traps and foggers is that they’re so darn expensive. The technology is really evolving, though, so I expect there will be something on the horizon soon. You mentioned larvicide? What is that?

Mike: Larvicide is an insecticide that specifically attacks larval-stage mosquitoes. Bt and Bti are most commonly used in mosquito control. They come in pellet form and are added to stagnant water – ponds, fountains, bird baths, things like that. When the mosquito larvae ingest the pellets, it destroys their digestive tracts, which kills them. This method is completely safe for people, animals and pets. Mosquito dunks are the same thing, just in larger quantities. Wow. We’ve really come a long way in mosquito control, haven’t we?

Mike: We sure have. But new technology isn’t the only way to get rid of mosquitoes. Don’t forget about good old fashioned mosquito predators. Nighthawks, purple martins, frogs, toads, spiders, lizards, some types of fish and bats all feed on mosquitoes. Make your yard friendly to these creatures, and they’ll help you get rid of mosquitoes. This is a lot of great information, Mike. But if you had to pick one sure-fire way to get rid of mosquitoes, what would it be?

Mike: I’d have to say professional mosquito control service. The things I mentioned earlier will definitely help, but a professional service can determine the type of mosquito you have and will know how to treat it. And their methods are safer than ever. Talk to your neighbors and friends to see which services they’ve used, then call around for options and pricing. Great. Anything else?

Mike: Yeah, don’t forget to empty your dog’s water bowl (laughs). That’s an easy one! Well, Mike, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks for spending time with us today.

Mike: You bet!

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