A single mosquito can immediately ruin a great day outdoors or a restful night in your bedroom. A swarm of mosquitos is enough to give you nightmares and keep you indoors all summer hiding in the air conditioning.
There are now so many ways to ether repel mosquitos from your yard, kill mosquitos around your house, or keep mosquitos away when you’re camping. The only thing you need to know is what actually works to get rid of mosquitos.
Lifespan – How long do they live?
With over 3,000 different species (not a typo), the average lifespan of mosquitos ranges a bit. Depending on the species, a mosquito’s life generally lasts 2 weeks to 6 months, unless your fly swatter has something to say about it.
These bloodsuckers can live almost anywhere in the world. They cannot live in extreme cold climates, so Antarctica may be the only safe place.
Mosquitos live in areas that provide them with standing water and a food source. They prefer living in areas such as ponds, forests, marshes, or areas with tall grass and weeds, especially in wetter areas. Warm and tropical regions can experience mosquito infestations year-round while regions with changing climates like New York will only have seasonal outbreaks as mosquitoes hibernate over the winter.
What Attracts Mosquitos to Humans
Mosquitos do actually bite all animals, but your dog doesn’t complain to you so you likely don’t realize that and think the whole swarm of mosquitos is out to get you. Some mosquitos may be more inclined to chase after you though depending on some criteria:
Well, this is an obvious one. Mosquitos have evolved to pick up on certain scents your blood releases into the air, like lactic acid.
What is your blood type? Are you the universal donor, also known as Type O? Well, unfortunately for you, mosquitos are more attracted to Type O blood than any other.
Before going out to a summer BBQ or a camping trip, you might want to consider the shade of your clothing. Mosquitos are attracted to darker colors, so avoid black t-shirts in skeeter territory.
Female mosquitos are equipped with super-sensitive olfactory organs, aka palps, which can smell CO2 from over 150 feet away. The carbon dioxide you breathe out with each breath is like bait for this pest.
In addition to that super CO2 smelling ability, mosquitoes also have another unfair advantage. Their eyes are capable of thermal imaging to sense body heat. Luckily this is only strong enough to sense warmth within a few feet, but they are likely already headed in your direction if they smelled your breath from a much larger distance.
How to Treat a Mosquito Bit
The common advice is to leave it alone and it will heal faster. The longer answer along with any health risks can be found here – Mosquito Bite Treatments & Allergy Information
Before we get into how to trap and kill mosquitos, let’s go over a few common and effective ways to keep mosquitos away from you. Below are some tried and true tricks to keep mosquitos away along with some modern alternatives you may not have heard about.
DEET, the much easier word for N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, has been one of the most used insect repellents since the 1940s. It is still considered one of the most powerful mosquito repellants. The exact science behind how this works is still being debated, but there is no debate in whether or not it works. Study after study has proven DEET effective at keeping mosquitoes away when used properly.
Examples of DEET mosquito repellants:
- Insect & Mosquito Repellent Spray
- DEET Insect Repellent Lotion
- Mosquito Repellent Wipes
- Waterproof Mosquito Repellent Bracelets
Is DEET safe?
First off, some people confused DEET with DDT which is not the same thing. DDT was banned in 1972 in the United States. DEET, on the other hand, is actually recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency:
“EPA continues to believe that the normal use of DEET does not present a health concern to the general population, including children. As always, consumers are advised to read and follow label directions in using any pesticide product, including insect repellents.”– United States Environmental Protection Agency
Thermacell’s Mosquito Repellent
This higher-tech mosquito repellant system uses the same chemical, metofluthrin, as OFF! Clip-On Mosquito Repellent. There are mixed reviews about the OFF product, but Thermacell uses a heating system to spread the scent-free vapors into the air. This creates what Thermacell calls their “15-foot mosquito protection zone.”
Thermacell has a wide variety of mosquito repellents using this technology including:
- Patio Shield – Best for backyards
- Portable Mosquito Repellent – Great for camping, fishing, or hiking
- Backpacker Mosquito Repeller – Small and lightweight for camping/backpacking trips
- Lantern – The same system as the Patio Shield, but more aesthetically pleasing
Picaridin is another EPA recommended insect repellent. It is a synthetic chemical that was formulated in the 1980s to mimic piperine, which is a compound found in black pepper that has been used as a natural insect repellent. Studies show that picaridin is more effective than DEET at keeping away mosquitos. With DEET, mosquitos may still land on your skin and not bite you. Picaridin-based mosquito repellents have been shown to keep mosquitos at a distance from you rather than let them get near your skin.
Victoria’s Secret Bombshell
No, this isn’t a joke. In a strange laboratory experiment to test mosquito repellents and attractants, the scientists hypothesized that Victoria’s Secret Bombshell Eau de Parfum Spray would act as an attractant because of its floral scents. The study, published in The Journal of Insect Science, proved otherwise.
Citronella Candles help keep mosquitos away but definitely are far from the best option. Citronella oil does repel mosquitos, but the oil itself evaporates fairly quickly when used directly. The candles usually only contain about a 5% concentration, so they have been shown to diminish the number of mosquitos, but definitely won’t stop them altogether. The candles are basically a good addition to supplement other repellants.