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10 effective ways to ward off mosquitoes this summer

If you haven’t had luck fighting mosquitoes in the past, try one of these methods

man swatting mosquitos
Photo (c) helivideo - Getty

Depending on where you live in the US, mosquitoes are either here or well on their way. Residents of every state seem to claim their mosquitoes are the worst, biggest or hungriest. Minnesota, Louisiana, Alaska and residents of several other states even joke that the mosquito is their state bird!

Itchy bites aside, mosquitoes often carry dangerous diseases such as malaria and West Nile virus. Luckily, there are several ways you can handle a mosquito problem. See a rundown of conventional methods of keeping mosquitoes at bay and the pros and cons of each solution.

Wear a wristband

Wristbands are a safe, somewhat effective alternative to spray. They are made with a variety of essential oils like citronella, and it’s easy to put a band on your arm and travel outdoors. However, while wristbands help a little, they won’t completely eliminate bites.

Pros: Convenient, inexpensive, great for travel

Cons: Strong scent, not foolproof

mosquito bracelet
Photo (c) Amazon
  • Scents made with essential oils
  • One-size-fits-all design

Buy on Amazon

Wear a net

A reasonable alternative to bug spray is wearing a net over your head. Many nets can be placed easily over a hat, while others feature a built-in cap. The upside is that it protects your face, is inexpensive and you don’t need to spray repellent. The downside is you’ll still have to cover the rest of your skin with another solution, and many people find wearing a net an unpleasant experience, especially in social situations.

Pros: Effective, inexpensive

Cons: Awkward, only protects face

mosquito mesh hat
Photo (c) Amazon
  • Fine mesh
  • Large enough to fit over hats

Buy on Amazon

Light a candle

Another common approach to keeping mosquitoes away is lighting a citronella candle. Citronella is a natural oil that has proven somewhat effective in defending against mosquitoes, as it masks the scents that typically attract mosquitoes. To be particularly useful, one should set up a perimeter of candles in a small area.

Pros: Pleasant scent, useful in small areas

Cons: Short lifespan, may need more than one

citronella candle
Photo (c) Amazon
  • 40 hours of protection
  • Made with citronella oil

Buy on Amazon

Light a coil

Somewhat along the same lines as a citronella candle is the mosquito coil. These coils are said to be effective in repelling mosquitoes for up to 7 hours within a small radius using various chemicals — including pyrethrum — to produce smoke. Unfortunately, they can break easily, and you must be mindful of fire safety.

Pros: Effective for small outdoor areas, relatively odorless

Cons: Break easily, can catch fire

mosquito coil repellent
Photo (c) Amazon
  • EPA approved
  • Lasts up to 12 hours

Buy on Amazon

Zap them

One of the more satisfying approaches to mosquito control can be the bug zapper. These devices attract bugs with their bright UV lights, then electrocute them. The insects fall into a tray, which is easily removed and emptied. While zappers get strong customer reviews, not all bugs will fly straight for the zapper.

Pros: Effective, environmentally friendly, fun to watch

Cons: May not immediately work, works best in the shade or night

insect zapper
Photo (c) Amazon
  • Just plug it in
  • Pet-friendly

Buy on Amazon

Trap them

An alternative to the zapper is a fan trap. The fan trap is relatively simple: it is either perched atop a pole or hung from a convenient location. A light attached to the device attracts mosquitoes, then a quiet fan motor sucks bugs inward, trapping and killing them. Reviews are generally positive, though it can take 3 - 6 weeks to truly make a difference.

Pros: Effective long-term, quiet, attractive

Cons: Can take weeks to begin working

dynatrap light
Photo (c) Amazon
  • Operates quietly
  • Protects up to half an acre

Buy on Amazon

Repel them with ultrasonic waves

One of the more high-tech ways to rid yourself of mosquitoes indoors is with an electronic repellent. The device plugs into the wall and emits an ultrasonic sound undetectable to humans and pets. However, these devices may not work on all pests and only agitate certain species.

Pros: Works well indoors, effective against more than just bugs

Cons: Only agitates some bugs with limited results

neatmaster ultrasonic repellent
Photo (c) Amazon
  • Safe for pets
  • Covers 80 to 120 square meters

Buy on Amazon

Set up a barrier

A long-term strategy that keeps mosquitoes away for 3 - 4 weeks is a healthy application of a garlic barrier fluid to plants and foliage in your yard. Mosquitoes hate the scent of garlic; therefore, surrounding your home with a garlicky smell is effective in keeping them away for some time. Unfortunately, there are mixed reviews regarding its full performance.

Pros: All natural, long lifespan

Cons: Requires a sprayer, mixed reviews on effectiveness

yard mosquito repellent
Photo (c) Amazon
  • Garlic and cedarwood-based
  • Safe for children and pets

Buy on Amazon

Spray yourself

The most common, least expensive and easiest way to keep bugs from bothering you is to spray your skin with a repellent. The upside is it’s very effective; the downsides are it’s a quick fix, you’ll be spraying yourself every time you leave your house and it’s very unpleasant to get in your eyes or mouth. Some people don’t like to use repellent due to the scent, while others are worried about the side effects of DEET, repellents’ active chemical.

Pros: Effective, inexpensive, convenient

Cons: Unpleasant odor, potentially harmful chemicals, short-term fix

deep woods spray
Photo (c) Amazon
  • 25% DEET
  • Dry formula

Buy on Amazon

Hire a pro

Photo (c) AndreyPopov - Getty

The most effective method for keeping mosquitoes away for the season is simply hiring a professional pest control expert. Not only are professionals equipped with the best equipment, they know what they’re doing and typically guarantee their work. You may end up paying more over the long run, but you’re likely to get the best results. Check out ConsumerAffairs’ Pest Control Buyers Guide for more information.

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