The most well-known and often-utilized way to prevent mosquito bites is to use an insect repellent on your skin. Try EPA-certified insect repellents with a DEET, picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil base. Re-apply your choice of insect repellent as often as the manufacturer recommends to get extended protection from mosquitoes.
- DEET repellent provides the longest-lasting protection of up to 12 hours for a controlled-release formula.
- Picaridin repellent does not damage fabrics or materials and offers up to 8 hours of protection.
- Lemon Eucalyptus mosquito repellent features an active ingredient that's derived from lemon eucalyptus oil and has been proven to be just as effective as DEET. Lemon eucalyptus insect repellent is effective for up to 6 hours and is not recommended for use on children under 3 because of possible skin irritation.
Keep mosquitoes from biting by using your clothing to protect yourself.
- Wear lightweight, full-coverage clothing in light colors.
- Treat clothing with permethrin for additional protection. Permethrin is an insect repellent that is for use on clothing only. It's odorless once it's dried on fabric, and it doesn't irritate skin.
- Wear insect-repellent clothing like ExOfficio BugsAway® clothes, which have built-in insect repellent
Mosquitoes need standing water and moist conditions to breed, so one of the most effective ways to prevent mosquitoes is to rid your yard of standing water, or treat that water with the non-toxic larvicide Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis). Bti prevents mosquito larvae from maturing into biting mosquitoes.
- Clean up your yard and gutters, and drain or dump out anything that can hold water. Plastic bags, bottle caps, tires, tarps, empty plant containers and saucers can hold enough water for mosquito larvae to survive and grow into pesky adults.
- If you live in an area where the Zika- and Dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitos live, you need to scrub water-holding items out and then keep them dry in order to ensure mosquito larvae does not survive (or just treat with Bti).
- Even more effective than dumping out containers or other water-holding objects is creating a "mosquito trap" with them. Place a Bti "dunk" or Bti granules in full bird baths, buckets and containers to attract breeding mosquitoes and prevent their larvae from surviving. Bti is non-toxic; it doesn't hurt bees, birds, non-biting insects or fish, even when birds and fish eat Bti-treated larvae. Bti will also kill black fly and fungus gnat larvae, so if you have issues with those, it's definitely time to start using Bti in your backyard.
- Mosquitoes don't travel far from where they breed, so if you follow mosquito prevention guidelines and work with neighbors to do the same thing, you can enjoy a relatively mosquito-free environment in your community.
- If you live in a town where an insecticide is sprayed to keep mosquitoes at bay, contact your local government and encourage them to make the switch to spraying or distributing non-toxic Bti, instead. Towns have tried this with good results, but it's a relatively new tactic that needs to gain footing in America.
Now you're equipped with all of the information you need to keep you and your family safe from mosquitoes. Be sure to spread the word to keep those in your community safe, too.