How do you repel mosquitoes? Experts offer their top tips

July 17, 2018  10:49

A horrifying video shows mosquitoes trying to reach and bite human skin through a net.

The clip, filmed by a biologist from the University of Melbourne in Australia, shows the insects repeatedly trying to pierce the net with their proboscises, or mouths.

According to a CDC report, 2018 is set to be the worst yet for illnesses transmitted from mosquito bites, which include West Nile virus, Zika virus, and dengue fever - all potentially deadly.

Although most bugs that bite us do not carry disease, the itching and red skin that comes along with it is enough to want to protect ourselves at all costs.

Daily Mail Online spoke to two experts about what repellents, gadgets and types of clothing actually keep those pesky bugs away.

Which repellents REALLY prevent mosquito bites?

Dr Immo Hansen, a professor of biology at New Mexico State University, has conducted several studies on the safety and efficacy of mosquito repellents.

A 2015 study he worked on, which looked at a number of commercial sprays, found that products containing DEET were the most effective.

'You have to look at the label and see the percentage but, for 25 percent or more, it can last six to eight hours, which is longer than most people stay outside,' he told Daily Mail Online.

'A smaller concentration would be closer to reapplying every two to four hours.'

Some commercial products that fell into this '25 percent or more' category include OFF Deep Woods insect repellent VIII, which contains 25 percent DEET, and Repel 100 insect repellent, containing a little more than 98 percent DEET.

DEET, which stands for diethyltoluamid, is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents. It was believed that the chemical blocked insect receptors that are attracted to a substance found in human breath and sweat.

However, recent evidence has shown that mosquitoes are actually repelled because of the chemical's smell.

Dr Hansen also found through his research that oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is extracted from the gum eucalyptus tree, is very good at preventing mosquito bites.

The oil is refined, which increases the concentration of a naturally occurring substance known as PMD, the ingredient which naturally repels mosquitoes.

Dr Hansen said for those who prefer to use a more natural product on their skin, as opposed to a chemical like DEET, the oil could be a choice for them.

The Environmental Protection Agency, however, warns to not use it on children under age three. 

Dr Neha Vyas, a family medicine doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, told Daily Mail Online that there are two other ingredients found in some repellents, picaridin and IR3535 - two chemicals developed in the 1980s - that also help prevent mosquito bites.

'You want to use any repellent that is EPA approved,' she said.

'In terms of time of day, we used to believe that it was just sun-up to sundown but now we know different mosquitoes that have different patterns of biting so you want to be protected 24/7.'

Horrifying video has captured mosquitoes trying to reach human skin through a net, but how can you protect yourself from what is expected to be the worst season ever for mosquito bites? +2

Horrifying video has captured mosquitoes trying to reach human skin through a net, but how can you protect yourself from what is expected to be the worst season ever for mosquito bites?

Which gadgets are ineffective at protecting you?

For all the products that do work, there are also several that don't.

Sonic devices, which are meant to repel mosquitoes via a sound that humans don't hear but the insects do, were found to be ineffective in the 2015 study.

'Mosquitoes are not repelled by it and in fact are almost attracted by it,' Dr Hansen said.

He added that bug-repellent bracelets with essential oils that allegedly keep mosquitoes away don't do much more than 'give off a nice smell'.

Also found to be ineffective were vitamin B-1 patches and citronella candles.

The candles are supposed to block the mosquito's olfactory receptors that pick up chemical and odors found on your skin.

'If you light a candle in your backyard, it's nothing more than a placebo effect,' said Dr Hansen.

What kind of clothing should you wear?

When it comes to clothing, Dr Vyas recommends wearing clothing made with tightly woven fabrics, including cotton shirts and nylon pants.

'We try to avoid Spandex or anything loosely knitted because the mosquitoes can get through the perforation and holes,' she said.

Although mosquitoes are attracted to smells more than colors, they are attracted to dark colors, which include clothing such as jeans, leggings and any kind of black garment.

Dr Vyas recommends wearing light-colored clothing, in tones such as white, beige or khaki.

Additionally, wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants will provide extra protection as well as closed-toe shoes.

'Make sure you wear socks and the socks should be worn over the pants. Pants worn over the socks leave enough room for mosquitos to get in,' Dr Vyas said.

She says if you want further protection, you can spray Permethrin - a clothing treatment to prevent bites from ticks, flies, and mosquitoes - on your clothes before going outside.

A study conducted by the University of Rhode Island found that those who sprayed Permethrin on their socks and sneakers were 73.6 times less likely to have a tick bite than those wearing footwear that wasn't sprayed.

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