by Crazy George
High Voltage News: Electronic Mosquito Repellent And Traps Work, But So Do Less Costly Methods
A multitude of new products claim to keep mosquitoes away without having to slather repellent on your skin. The designs come in different forms — fans, misters, lanterns and more — but ultimately they fall into two categories: mosquito traps and electronic mosquito repellents. How do they work? More importantly, do they work?
Many traps today burn propane or butane to create carbon dioxide that’s combined with other compounds to boost the attractiveness of the plume. Mosquitoes are drawn to this trail and are blown into traps by fans. Researchers have been testing some traps that use compounds that mimic ammonia, lactic acid and caproic acid – human skin scents attractive to mosquitoes. Traps do work, but consumers should know that products’ claims about their range of effectiveness (some say as much as an acre) are usually based on laboratory extrapolations, not the real world. For best results, you may need more than one trap. The biggest drawback to traps is the cost, from $ 300 to $ 800. They also require regular maintenance and replacement of fuel tanks, and they may lose effectiveness in breezy conditions. For these reasons, some find the traditional variety more desirable, like repellent devices used with standard chemicals — all those candles, lamps and other devices that purport to drive away mosquitoes. Many contain DEET, the nickname for diethyl toluamide, or use as their active ingredient a compound called picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil or citronella oil, which is derived from lemongrass. Other applications on the market and growing in popularity are butane cartridges and lanterns.
Thermacell has developed “appliances,” devices similar in size to a large TV remote, and equipped with a butane cartridge that vaporizes the mosquito repellent allethrin, a synthetic copy of an insecticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers. The repellent is not considered toxic to humans, and Thermacell says it creates a 15-by-15-foot barrier of protection. Price: $ 26 to $ 32. The company also has developed lanterns that work in the same fashion. Another repellent, Picaridin, is widely used outside the U.S. It is odorless, is less likely to irritate the skin and doesn’t damage clothing. However, the American Mosquito Control Association maintains that DEET remains the gold standard of repellents, despite its drawbacks. Some of the drawbacks for example, are that DEET is a solvent and can unfortunately damage clothing and plastics and can irritate some people’s skin. However, these drawbacks can be minimized by simply following the directions and cautions on the label. This leaves us with the electronic mosquito repellents or EMRs.
EMRs are devices that claim to produce electronic or ultrasonic sounds that supposedly repel or drive away mosquitos. These inventions cost a lot more than the other options and are no more effective, and in some cases even less effective than traditional methods. In fact, one study showed the following:
The researcher analyzed 10 studies conducted in North America, Russia and Africa. All were field-based studies — occurring in a natural setting rather than a laboratory. All studies “found that there was no difference in the number of mosquitoes that landed on the bare body parts of the human subjects with or without an EMR,” the researcher said. “Hence, these devices do not work in repelling mosquitoes. As EMRs do not repel mosquitoes, they would not prevent malaria”.
Take time to read around; there are other EMRs that spray or vaporize chemicals, but the effectiveness is only equal to traps and traditional applications. Mosquito control researchers report that the most reliable method for the money is the push-pull approach. Pull the insects into traps, and rely on repellents to push away any remaining bugs.
Oh, by the way, don’t bother eating garlic or relying on marigolds, daisies, chrysanthemums or any other plants said to repel mosquitoes. Their essential oils volatilize too quickly to have much effect on a mosquito that has traveled far to feast on your blood.
Now you know, and it’s up to you to choose the best application for you and your family.