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Common Mosquito Sources
Mosquito Bite Prevention for Travelers 1
Mosquito Bite Prevention for Travelers 2

Mosquito Myths

Among the many misconceptions:

  • Bug zappers are effective against mosquitoes. Bug zappers do not control mosquitoes and can reduce the populations of beneficial insects.
  • Electronic repellers keep mosquitoes away. No, they don't; save your money.
  • Residential vegetation can produce mosquitoes. They may be resting in the vegetation, but standing water is required to "produce" mosquitoes.
  • Bats, owls and other birds can control mosquitoes. Although they may include mosquitoes in their diet, they do not consume enough mosquitoes to make an appreciable difference in their populations.
  • Some mosquitoes can be two inches long. They don't get that big. What you may have seen is a crane fly.
  • Mosquitoes nest in vegetation. Mosquitoes do not nest.
  • Spraying for adults is the best method of mosquito control. Adulticiding is the least efficient method. Eliminating mosquitoes before they become adults is preferable.
  • Mosquitoes can transmit AIDS. False.
  • The citrosa plant repels mosquitoes. Although citrosa oil (citronella) has been used widely as a mosquito repellent, the undisturbed plant itself does not release these oils and is thus not effective as a repellent.

Tips on Repellent Use

  • Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children. 
  • Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET are generally recommended.  Other US Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.  These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label. 
  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing. 
  • In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of three years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than two months old.
  • Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.  
  • For more information on what repellent is right for you, consider using the Environmental Protection Agency's search tool to help you choose skin-applied repellent products.
  • If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

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