Don’t fall for these mosquito myths, SC. Here are 4 ways to actually fight the bloodsuckers

North Carolina State University
·3 min read

As summer rolls in, so too does one of nature’s most irritating creatures — the mosquito.

Whether you’re out walking the dog, having a picnic by a lake or grilling in the backyard, mosquitoes are usually close by and ready to feast on you and your family. There are several tried and true ways to keep the pesky bloodsuckers at bay, but there are also methods that might sound reasonable, but are in reality useless myths.

One such myth is that adding certain plants to your garden, like citronella grass, can repel mosquitoes. According to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, it’s the oil inside the leaves that have properties that can repel mosquitoes.

“You would have to crush the leaves to extract these oils,” the Texas A&M AgriLife website states. “Then you would have to rub these oils on your skin.”

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control adds that other mosquito repellent myths include electrocuting devices or bug zappers that use ultraviolet light to attract bugs.

“Bug zappers mainly kill beneficial moths, beetles and other harmless night-flying insects,” the DHEC states.

The DHEC notes that devices that use ultrasonic waves to repel mosquitoes do not work, nor does consuming garlic or taking garlic pills.

Below are four ways to truly repel mosquitoes, according to the DHEC and the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service.

Wear insect repellant or protective clothing

  • When used as directed, insect repellent is the best way to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Even children and pregnant women should protect themselves. Use products that contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535.

  • Treat clothing with a repellent as directed on the label to provide temporary protection. Never apply a repellent underneath clothing.

  • Wear light-colored clothing rather than dark colors. Tuck the pants’ cuffs into your socks or boots.

  • To protect infants, use white-colored mosquito netting made of cotton or nylon with 23 to 26 mesh per inch.

Keep mosquitoes out

  • Keep car windows rolled up and garage doors closed at night. Make sure to use screens (16-18 mesh per inch), in good condition, on windows and doors. Screen doors should open outward and close automatically.

Insecticides and outdoor treatments

  • Use yellow light bulbs or sodium vapor orange lights for outside lighting.

  • For temporary relief outdoors, use a small hand-held fogger (not a garden sprayer) made for mosquito control. The foggers come with a special insecticide. Use it a few hours before an outdoor activity is planned, but fogging will not be effective on a windy day.

  • Twilight is the most effective time to use a fogger outdoors.

Mosquito population control

  • Mosquito populations can be controlled in two ways: source reduction and chemical control. Source reduction is the least expensive and most effective of the two methods. It requires finding and eliminating possible breeding places. Look for standing water and remove unneeded water containers such as tin cans, and old tires.

  • Keep cisterns, cesspools, septic tanks, barrels and tubs of stored water tightly covered.

  • Empty and wash birdbaths weekly.

  • Clean out rain gutters.

  • Examine flat roofs after rains to make sure no water is on them.

  • Remove debris and floating vegetation from areas that cannot be drained.

  • Examine trees for decayed places that hold water and then drill drainage holes to remedy the situation.