Mosquitoes have a well deserved reputation as the most dangerous killers on the planet because of the diseases they spread with their bites.
With their numbers on the increase because of global warming and pesticide resistance to name just a few, it’s now more important than ever to appreciate that mosquito control can and does start in your own back yard.
Protection from Mosquitoes
Protective measures which include the use of products like Deet or picaridin to repel mosquitoes, and wearing long sleeves and long pants during hours when mosquitoes are active can cut down on the number of bites and reduce the potential for disease transmission. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently recommends four active ingredients for use in insect repellents; DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) and IR3535.
- DEET is still considered one of the most effective mosquito repellents around and one of the oldest. It was first developed for use by the U.S. Army in 1946, and became available to the public in 1957. DEET gives off a distinct odor, is known to irritate the eyes, and may damage plastic, rubber and vinyl. On the plus side, when used as directed, DEET is considered safe by many public health authorities and organizations, including the the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and WHO. Many other products have hit the market since then, but few compare to DEET. However, it should not be used too heavily or on infants under 2 months.
- PICARIDIN is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for protection against mosquitoes that carry diseases. It is not known to irritate skin or eyes and evaporates from the skin more slowly than DEET or IR3535. It may repel bugs for longer periods. Although fairly new to the U.S. this repellent has been used worldwide since 1998 and received CDC endorsement in 2005.
- OLE Oil of lemon eucalyptus (marketed as REPEL) offers protection similar to low concentrations of DEET. Derived from the Eucalyptus Citriodora tree it is the only CDC recommended plant-based repellent. OLE is the preferred option for those who want a natural product however the CDC advises against the use of the oil on children under three years of age.
- IR3535 This repellent (3-[N-butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid) was developed by Merck & Co., Inc. in the mid-1970s and has been used in Europe for more than 20 years. In the U.S. it is available exclusively through the Avon Corporation as Skin-So-Soft™ Bug Guard Plus IR3535 Active Insect Repellent (7.5%) or Skin-So-Soft™ Bug Guard Plus IR3535 Expedition Insect Repellent (15-20%).