Analyzing Mosquito Repellants: Separating Fact from Myth

Mosquito repellantsDEET is dangerous. Vitamin B will make you stink to a mosquito, resulting in fewer bites. Dryer sheets also keep them at bay.

You’ve no doubt heard these myths – and many more. But they are myths. Old wives’ tales. Urban legends.

Read below to separate fact from the myths regarding mosquito repellants.

Let’s talk about DEET first. An acronym for diethyltoluamide, DEET actually is quite safe and actually is the most effective insect/mosquito repellant (it can even work against ticks, although a spray containing permethrin, which actually kills ticks, instead of just repelling them, as DEET does is best to use if you’re worried about ticks). It is wise to use a DEET spray that contains no more than 50 percent DEET (some skin can be sensitive to the repellant). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviewed DEET’s safety for the general population in 2014 and found it didn’t present any health concerns.

You may have heard that taking a lot of Vitamin B will help repel mosquitoes. This vitamin will help you maintain healthy red blood cells, but it’s not been proven to have you omit an odor mosquitoes find repellant. The same goes for garlic.

Mosquitoes don’t bite people who gargle with Listerine.  Oh, if it only it were this easy! But, once again, this old wives’ tale is just that – an old wives’ tale. The Tangiphao Mosquito Abatement District in Louisiana even went so far as to test this theory and found that, while it looked as if Listerine seemed to do away with mosquitoes at first, the insects apparently recovered. Instead, a Listerine spray appeared to knock them down but once their wings dried, they were up and flying again.

The abatement district also tested dryer sheets and found they also were ineffective.

Have you ever worn an ultrasound device to ward off mosquitoes? How did that work for you? Probably not very well. The American Mosquito Control Association has stated that at “least 10 studies in the past 15 years have unanimously denounced ultrasonic devices as having no repellency value whatsoever.“

You may have heard that lemon, eucalyptus and citronella oils repel mosquitoes. Unfortunately they don’t repel the bugs very effectively.

No one really knows why mosquitoes are attracted to humans and pets. While it does appear to be true that some people are more “attractive” to mosquitoes than other people, no one knows why because the level of attraction depends on a very complex mixing of different chemical and even visual signals.

If you figure out why some mosquitoes bite some people more than others and if you can package/bottle a product, you’ll be a wealthy individual quite quickly! But, believe us, many exceedingly smart people have tried before you, with little to show for it.