Fans, clothes and ‘dunks’: New ideas to keep mosquitoes away this year

May 8, 2019

Mosquito season is here, and it’s a serious concern for families.

Many parents at Pullen Park in Raleigh have tried different strategies to fight the pests, but the bugs are still biting.

“We have candles and all the things, we’ve read all the things, but I don’t know if any of them make a big difference,” said one mom.

A wide variety of mosquito-borne diseases threaten the U.S. and North Carolina.

North Carolina State University pesticides expert and toxicology professor Heather Patisaul said commercial spraying in areas like ditches is one option.

“Miami used that technique in the last couple of years as they’ve seen incidents of Zika and denque go up,” Patisaul said.

However, spraying doesn’t always work, Patisaul said. The chemicals can also be toxic to important pollinating insects like bees.

Long-sleeved shirts and pants are one of the best ways to reduce your risk, along with sprays with 15 to 20 percent DEET.

“There’s also clothing that’s been impregnated with “pyrethrins” and other deterrents that can be very effective,” Patisual said.

The best prevention starts with draining standing water in gutters or other containers where mosquitos breed.

If you have a bird bath or French drains, “Mosquito-Dunks,” which gradually release their natural larvicide into the water, can also be a good option.

“They contain a bacterium which is toxic to the larvae but not to other aquatic species,” Patisaul said. “And it’s a great way to control mosquitos in the neighborhood without causing toxicity to your neighbors -- so that can be really helpful.”

Patisaul does not recommend bug-zappers, but she does recommend a more natural option -- the use of large fans facing away from a child’s play area. That will keep mosquitos away since the insects can’t fly into a breeze.