How to Keep Mosquitoes Away

Barbara Pleasant shares how to keep mosquitoes away, including helpful methods for controlling mosquitoes, using natural remedies in the garden to repel them and what you need to know about West Nile virus.


| August/September 2003



Red states indicate human cases of West Nile Virus in the United States in 2002.

Red states indicate human cases of West Nile Virus in the United States in 2002.

COURTESY CDC

Learn how to keep mosquitoes away with these handy suggestions to repel mosquitoes before they attack.

Humans have been taking aim at mosquitoes since 1897, when Sir Ronald Ross identified a tropical species as the vector for deadly malaria. Now, the mosquito's role in spreading West Nile virus — not to mention its itchy bites — has humans in North America up in arms. Human infections have been documented in 39 states and the District of Columbia, and the virus still is on the move.

It's time to get to know your local mosquitoes and lay some defensive plans about how to keep mosquitoes away. Since the appearance of West Nile in 1999 in North America, an explosion of new mosquito-control devices and plant-based mosquito repellents has been underway. It's also quite possible that you can outsmart mosquitoes on your own with some of the homemade, Earth-friendly solutions outlined here.

West Nile is one of about 30 arboviruses of public health concern that are transmitted by female mosquitoes, which are the only ones that bite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says West Nile previously was found in Africa, Eastern Europe, West Asia and the Middle East, but now is permanently established in North America. The disease is carried by 110 species of birds and transmitted by 30 species of mosquitoes.

In humans, although infections to date are considered rare, West Nile can cause a fever with mild flu-like symptoms, including body aches, low energy and headache. In extreme cases (about one in 150 people infected), West Nile meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord) or West Nile encephalitis (brain inflammation), which comes with a severe headache, fever, stiff neck and other serious complications, can bring death. No specific treatment is known.

The CDC advises if you live in an area where West Nile is widespread, seek medical attention immediately for any severe or unusual headache.

rachel
3/24/2016 12:02:48 PM

Mosquitoes have always been disease carriers. This article reinforces that fact considering it was published in 2003 and the focus was on the West Nile virus. Nowadays the CDC is focusing on the Zika Virus. Either way, protection is important! I've started using Be Free Mosquito. It's an essential oils based formula that targets the insect's receptors and binds them, preventing them from locating you. It's DEET-free and all natural. I got it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0172EJM7S/


deuce
2/9/2016 6:41:29 PM

I live near the swamps (Louisiana). Nothing stops mosquitos here. The only thing that helps is wearing a rain coat. They cant bite through plastic!


joe
8/17/2015 8:36:53 AM

I always get bitten by mosquitoes, so I use 2 types of protection. 1 I use plugins for around the house. They only come out early evening so we put them on 7pm - until the kids wake up. We never get bit 2) If we are outside, or not at home, we use natural mosquito repellent bands http://www.amazon.com/Value-Pack-Repellent-Bracelets-Adjustable/dp/B00ZXGB33Y Both solutions work for us! I hope they do for you!


ozzie
6/26/2015 4:13:02 AM

Hi Guys, anyone know how to stop sand flies(midgies) from biting


jeffwithgf7
7/31/2014 7:54:53 PM

As an EXTREME mosquito magnet who does not want to use Deet. I'm Happy to share with you an All-Natural product I found that is already mixed & ready to use, that is ALL NATURAL & Organic & WORKS BETTER THAN DEET.... I've only had 4 bites since I started wearing this stuff several months ago, which is amazing considering that I work outside about 70 yards from a spring fed pond (mosquito haven). Their $15 bottle lasts me about 2 months. I get mine at: GF7BetterThanDeet.com. enjoy...


rlm
7/16/2014 5:54:42 PM

Count our entire family, and many friends, among those who are appalled that MEN would run an article that recommends the use of a dangerous toxic synthetic chemical - directly on the skin - like DEET, when there ARE safe and effective alternatives. -Diethylmetatoluamide) has been shown to irritate eyes & mucus membranes, and sometimes the skin. According to the EPA, it can in rare cases lead to epileptic seizures. Some studies show it also causes insomnia, impairs one's sensory perception and destabilises emotional moods. Whye even consider using poison when the Earth has provided all kinds of natural insect repellents such as lemon balm or lavendor oil? I put a drop of lavender oil on my forehead before going to sleep and it keeps the mosquitos away. If we are really trying to save the planet - and ourselves with it - we must be uncompromising: USE NO MORE HUMAN-MADE POISONS!' - Thank you Catherine, for summing that up all so well. And - isn't that what MEN was supposed to be all about? This is an example (along with the 'buy a new refridgerator' article) of why we have NOT renewed our subscription. *The Mosquito Magnets work well for us, reducing the swarms from making it impossible to work outside even with a bug-suit, to fine, except at dawn and dusk. Place the unit(s) BETWEEN the prime sources of mosquitos and your home, and they will not attract mosquitos to your patio or deck. On a large property surrounded by marsh, moist woods, and a stream, 3 units strategically placed have worked wonders. **Best control has been acheived with a combination of the Mosquito Magnets AND a variety of poultry - also limiting black flies, midgets, no-see-ums, and many, many other pest insects and ticks! Keep in mind that mosquitos can even breed in damp heavy vegetation. Not to mention swamps, marshes, puddles, etc. Paving the planet is not the solution.


lucy123
7/8/2014 10:01:23 AM

check out trap at green power science on you tube. also cheap spray to kill captured mosquitoes and feed them to good bugs in your garden. Lucy at http://www.hotellyonouest.com lyon Ouest


khover2002
7/7/2014 9:40:30 AM

I'm surprised and a little disappointed that a simple fan wasn't mentioned. According to the American Mosquito Control Association [http://www.mosquito.org/faq], "Mosquitoes are relatively weak fliers, so placing a large fan on your deck can provide a low-tech solution."


solarmanjd
7/1/2014 5:31:42 AM

We use to sell a solar powered mosquito repelar. I would emit a sound that imitated the mosquito's only none natural enemy a Dragon Fly's Buzz of its wings... This was very evident when you would watch what would happen when you had it turned off..then all the mosquitoes would appear and start buzzing around you...then turn it on and watch um scatter ..running for cover as fast as they could to get away from that noise...that we can't hear but they know very well...


catherine
6/30/2014 1:42:10 PM

I must say, I am shocked that Mother Earth should suggest using Deet (Diethylmetatoluamide) to combat mosquitos! DEET has been shown to irritate eyes and mucus membranes, and sometimes the skin. According to the EPA, it can in rare cases lead to epileptic seizures. Some studies show it also causes insomnia. impair one's sensory perception and destabilise emotional moods.I mean, whx bother to use poison when the Earth has provided all kinds of natural insect repellents such as lemon balm or lavendor oil? I put a drop of lavender oil on my forehead before going to sleep and it keeps the mosquitos away. If we are really trying to save the planet - and ourselves with it - we must be uncompromising: USE NO MORE HUMAN-MADE POISONS!


holly
6/10/2014 4:24:21 AM

We keep horses, and they are tortured by moskitos every summer. The homeopathic remedy Apisin 30C removes the itching and swelling immediately, so they get it whenever it is needed. They need a new dose when swellings appear again. The remedy usually is good for several days. You can dilute 2 - 5 Apis globuli (tiny white pills) in a glass of water, stir it, and a teaspoon of this diluted medicine will be enough. So it is very inexpensive.


holly
6/10/2014 4:19:52 AM

We live in an area with lots of mosquitos, so we protect our houses with screen windows. The cites also spread bacillus thuringensis all over the surface water and this has helped to reduce the moskito pest a lot. What we also discovered is that persons on a whole grain diet are not bothered by the moskitos whereas persons on a standard American diet that includes refined grains and sugar are literally eaten up by them while the healthy eater is hardly bothered. (It ia the B-vitamins contained in grains that repel the moskitos, so some people take it as supplement when they travel to highly infected areas.)


mrs. v
7/11/2011 3:22:29 PM

Check out Buzz-Off at God's Country Botanicals. It contains 11 insect-repelling essential oils in an insect-repelling base of soybean oil. Better-than-DEET ingredients include catnip oil, lemon eucalyptus and geranium, as well as the old stand-bys citronella and lemongrass oil. Find it at www.GodsCountryBotanicals.com


kathleen mckernan
6/25/2011 3:52:30 PM

We live in the coastal area of New Jersey and the mosquito is our state bird. Lemon balm planted near where you enter/leave your home works wonders. Just grab a handful of leaves and rub them all over. Smells great and keeps the critters (including no-see-ums) away. We think it works on ticks too but can't promise.


alpcats
6/17/2011 12:54:33 AM

check out trap at green power science on you tube. also cheap spray to kill captured mosquitoes and feed them to good bugs in your garden.


elli sparks
6/15/2011 4:56:48 PM

When my son gets bitten his skin reacts right away with a big bump and lots of itching. We've found teatree oil to be extremely effective in reducing swelling and eliminating itch. The trick is to apply it within an hour or so.


hhunt
6/15/2011 3:28:25 PM

The plant that will grow in compact soil, mentioned at the end of the article, is plantain. The article has been corrected to reflect that fact.


belinda
6/15/2011 2:04:55 PM

I also did not see what the common weed that grows in compacted soil to help with bites. What is it?


amy_44
6/15/2011 12:27:39 PM

Fran, I don't see the weed remedy either! I googled it and found that Plantain can be used on bug bites (just do an internet search to see what it looks like - I have some in my yard and never knew what they were called). Here is an excerpt from the website about how to use it: "How to use plantain? Make a fresh leaf poultice. Pick a leaf, chew it well and put it on the bite. "Like magic" the pain, heat, and swelling -- even allergic reactions -- disappear, fast! (Yes, you can dry plantain leaves and carry them in your first aid kit. Chew like you would fresh leaves.) Poultices ease pain, reduce swelling, and help heal. No wonder they're the number one natural choice for treating insect bites, bee and wasp stings." You can go to http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Bug_Bites.htm to read up some more. I'll have to try this!


fran kilmer
6/15/2011 11:12:13 AM

Did I miss something? In the last section, If You Are Bitten, what is the common weed that grows in compacted soil and can be used after a bite? I failed to see the weed identified.


suzanne horvath
6/15/2011 9:53:57 AM

I'm in the process of ordering Buhach powder to control mosquitoes. As I've stated elsewhere, I use cedar oil products to control fleas, ticks, ants etc. But the flying critters are harder to control. I'm hoping the Buhach does the trick. It would be nice to be able to sit outside and read a book, which is impossible now. Between the cedar oil and the Buhach, I should be one happy puppy!


bill goodrich
6/15/2011 9:13:10 AM

Your skin may become sensitized to Calamine lotion if used for an extended period of time.


dianne
6/15/2011 8:35:07 AM

This article is a little behind the times. The horse vaccination is now a single yearly booster after the intial double dose and is good for a year. There are several companies who offer a reliable vaccination. Check with your vet.






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