for Preventing Mosquito Bites
pesticides to kill adult mosquitoes is not practical and often
not successful in your backyard. Suppression of adult mosquitoes
is temporary and will not solve mosquito problems. (See “Guidelines
for Reducing Mosquitoes at Home” for other management
options around the home.) Using insecticides to kill mosquito larva
around the home is not recommended. A better way can be found by
selecting a mosquito bite prevention method that best suits your
To reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases and annoyances caused by biting
outdoor activities when mosquitoes are active, such as at dusk.
windows and doorways tightly sealed. Install and maintain window
and door screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house.
working outside during mosquito season, wear protective clothing
such as shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and pants.
netting can also be used to protect one’s face and neck
or used on infant carriages, strollers and playpens.
Mosquito repellents are volatile chemicals that deter or mask the mosquito’s
ability to find its host. They are commonly used to prevent mosquito bites
during outdoor activities, such as sports, hunting, hiking and gardening. The
same respect and caution should be used when using repellents as with other
a repellent that best fits your outdoor activity.
repellents to areas that are exposed. Do not apply repellents
not apply repellents to open wounds, eyes or mouth.
with sensitive skin should avoid using repellents.
a small area of skin to ensure that your skin is not adversely
sensitive to the repellent.
off repellents after going indoors to reduce the amount of time
of unnecessary exposure to repellents.
especially those containing diethyltoluamide (commonly known
as DEET), prevent mosquito bites for at least several hours up
to a full day. DEET can be applied to both skin and clothing.
For most conditions, products with 10-40% DEET are sufficient
for repelling mosquitoes on adults. Products containing 23% DEET
offer over five hours of protection on average. Increased concentrations
over 50% do not offer significantly longer protection. Some people
experience adverse reactions from DEET and other repellents.
Be sure to read and follow the directions on the container. The
EPA states that products containing 10% or less of DEET are suitable
for use on children. Repellents should not be used on infants.
Consult your physician or local health department for inquiries
about use on infants and children.
is a commonly used repellent that is applied topically or volatilized
in citronella candles. Protection of topically applied citronella
is short lasting. Studies show that 10% citronella lasts less
than 30 minutes on average; multiple applications may be needed
for longer protection. Candles can offer some reduction of mosquito
bites but there is no evidence attributing this repellency to
has both insecticide and repellency characteristics. Products
containing permethrin, labeled for mosquito repellency can be
used on clothing and other fabrics, such as tents, but should
not be applied directly to skin. Read the label and follow directions
carefully when using these mosquito repellents and insecticides.
bath oils, such as Avon Skin-So-Softâ, do offer some protection
from mosquito bites and contain repellents recognized by the
Environmental Protection Agency. Tests have shown repellency
works for less than 30 minutes on average. Multiple applications
may be needed to offer limited mosquito repellency.
mosquito-repelling plants, such as the citrosa plant, are not
known to significantly reduce mosquito numbers or mosquito bites.
containing plant-derived chemicals, such as soybean oil, may
have some mosquito repellent properties but durations of repellency
are not as long lasting as products containing DEET. Products
containing 2% soybean oil have shown repellency to last for over
one hour, on average.
repellents that emit high frequency sounds do not repel mosquitoes,
or other pests. Additionally, electronic bug zappers do not control
mosquitoes or other flying pests. In fact, they work indiscriminately,
killing many beneficial insects that prey on pests.
Insect Repellent Use and Safety
Fradin MS, Day
JF. Comparative efficacy of insect repellents against mosquito
bites. N Engl J Med. 2002;347(1):13-8. Access restricted.
Fradin M.S. Mosquitoes
and Mosquito Repellents: A clinician’s guide. Annals of Internal
Medicine 1998;128:931-940. Access restricted.
Promotions That Have Limited Value for Mosquito Control
WSU Extension- Whatcom County
1000 N. Forest St., Suite 201
Bellingham, WA 98225
this fact sheet...