It’s mosquito season here in Houston. And—unlike open season—we’re on the menu.
Preventive Pest Control, Harris County Public Health: Mosquito Control Division, and other groups are on the front line of keeping this menace back. This includes misting for adults, reducing habitat for larvae, and tracking vectors for disease.
However, a few mosquitoes inevitably make it through these defenses. Maybe your neighbor doesn’t have mosquito control company, or the crazy cat lady down the street won’t drain that bird bath. Whatever it is, you don’t want to get bitten. Not only are the bites annoying and itchy, but mosquitoes are vectors (or carriers) of many dangerous diseases, such as Zika virus, West Nile virus, and Malaria. In fact, Mosquito-borne diseases are responsible for more human deaths each year than any other creature.
So, what can you do to keep safe this season? The number one solution is mosquito repellant. But with so many options, what works? In the end, there are only three options to guarantee you stay mosquito-free: DEET, Picaridin, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. Sounds scary, right? It’s really not! N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (or DEET for short) was developed by the USDA back in the 40’s. Since then it has become the number one, go-to mosquito repellant. It works on all species of mosquitoes and many other biting insects all over the world. It is endorsed by both the CDC and the EPA.
Because of its scary sounding chemical name, it has been extensively studied for decades. Since its creation, DEET has potentially been associated with only four deaths out of hundreds of millions of uses. When used according labels, DEET has no side effects among most of the population aside from some skin irritation. And for a very small portion of the population that has had a negative or toxic reaction, 90% of cases were treated at home, and 8% of cases (80% of the cases that went to a physician) were discharged after an exam. The majority of these cases were from misuse of the repellant.
When used properly, DEET keeps mosquitoes off for up to 8 hours. Look for a 10%-30% concentration: more than this will only increase the duration if you don’t sweat or wash the DEET of before then.
But let’s say the name “DEET” still reminds you of Di-hydrogen Monoxide. Or maybe you can’t stand the smell (mosquitoes can’t either, apparently). There is another effective alternative: Picaridin.
Picaridin was developed in the 80’s and was approved for use in the US in 2005. With a 20% concentration, it is often sited as being just as effective as DEET, though sometimes with a shorter duration. But let’s face it: here in Houston, you’re going to be sweating it off and need to re-apply according to the label anyways.
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
For a natural alternative, turn to Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Make sure it has a 30% concentration of para-methane-diol, it’s active ingredient. It won’t last as long as DEET, or Picaridin, (2 to 4 hours max), but you might even be able to make some yourself!
If you feel like there is a mosquito infestation around your home, don’t hesitate to call Preventive Pest Control today. Our experts will educate you on ways to eliminate potential mosquito trouble areas, as well as treat them quick and effectively.