Oh, No! A Mosquito! How to Keep These Pests at Bay - Page 2

Gorp.com
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Sea to Summit Mosquito Pyramid Net Double Shelter with Insect Shield
Sea to Summit Mosquito Pyramid Net Double Shelter with Insect Shield  (Meoosejaw.com)

3. Don't simply use repellents in the morning and expect them to last all day long. “Reapply regularly,” Conlon advises, especially if you are sweating off the stuff as you hike, bike, or paddle through mosquito country.

4. Steer clear of products that don't have the seal of approval from the CDC and EPA. “Be wary of what you read on the Internet,” says Conlon. “People will tell you toad pee keeps mosquitoes away. It's not true.” Neither will garlic or vitamin B1, he adds, or clove oil. The latter works, but only at concentrations “that will burn a hole in your skin,” says Conlon. Other snake-oil-like products can have even graver side effects. “People really need to watch what they're using. If there was a tried-and-true repellent, repellent companies would be all over it.”

5. Pyrethroid-based products by ThermaCELL and other companies are great for hunting in a stand and campsites, says Conlon. “They work quite well if you're standing still.” The downside: “You're surrounded by a plume of insecticide. As soon as you get a stiff breeze, it blows away.”

6. Permethrin-impregnated fabric from InsectShield and other companies is highly recommended. “That stuff works wonders,” says Conlon. “And you're not going to be absorbing anything into your skin.” Conlon says he would douse his mosquito netting with permethrin on expeditions in Africa. “When I woke up, there was a zone of death outside my tent.”

7. Despite the wide array of repellents and other mosquito-proofing tactics, Conlon says that the biggest problem with mosquito control is compliance (in other words, getting people to actually use repellant): Even in the worst outbreaks of mosquito-borne illnesses, he says, “the compliance figures are abysmal. You have to use what's out there.”

Environmentalists and pacifists might want to avoid killing mosquitoes, but you can't ignore the mosquitoe’s talent for spreading disease. And, seriously, should we worry about wiping them out? Probably not, in Conlon's opinion. (Other scientists beg to differ, arguing that mosquito extinction would have serious consequences.) His hypothetical prediction: “It probably wouldn't matter. They really don't provide a primary food source for any one organism. Even bats would rather have a big, juicy moth than chase a mosquito around.”

Don't count on a mosquito-free future, however. “They've been around for 170 million years,” laughs Conlon. “It's not because they're stupid.”

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