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Six Common Misconceptions About Mosquito Control

By Chris Williams on May 23, 2016.

1. We’re protected because we use a bug zapper outside.

These insect electrocuting devices, commonly called “bug zappers” are not an effective control for mosquitoes. Most of the flying insects that are zapped look like mosquitoes, but they are really harmless (and beneficial) midges (see Do Bug Zappers Work?).

2. I’m sure our mosquito problem is coming from the weeds in my neighbor’s overgrown yard.

Mosquitoes often rest in heavy vegetation during the day but they breed in standing, stagnant water. Check your own yard for containers, tires, tarps, etc. that are holding water and breeding mosquitoes (see Worried About Mosquitoes?).

3. I just installed a bat house in my yard to control mosquitoes.

Don’t count on it. Even if bats do occupy your bat house, they are not going to make a dent in the mosquito population. Bats prefer insect prey larger than mosquitoes such as moths; less than 1% of their diet is mosquitoes. Enjoy watching the bats though.

4. I always put some vanilla oil on my kids before they go outside to play in the evening.

Don’t rely on homemade or natural mosquito repellents. If they work at all, they don’t last for long. Be smart and buy a repellent containing DEET which the Centers for Disease Control says is the best choice for long-term protection. For other repellents that really work, according to CDC, see What’s the Best Insect Repellent? You should also know that some of our most dangerous mosquitoes are daytime biters so daytime repellent use is important.

5. My wife is growing these special plants on our deck that are supposed to repel mosquitoes.

Citronella and other plants being sold as mosquito repellents only work as such once they are harvested and processed. It’s usually the oils in the plants that act as repellents. A green plant sitting in a pot is not going to repel mosquitoes no matter what your plant nursery says.

6. We’re fine because our community has a spray truck that goes down the streets once a week.

Sorry to disappoint but this kind of spraying is the least effective way of controlling mosquitoes. The spray does not travel very far into residents’ yards, it doesn’t reach most mosquitoes hiding in vegetation, and it is only temporary. When spraying is used, individual spraying of a property is more effective. Eliminating mosquito breeding sites or treating standing water are the most effective control methods (see How to Eliminate Mosquitoes From Your Yard – Advice From the Pros).

Photo Credit : “Bug zapper” by Mk2010Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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