What Really Works For Mosquito Control?

Do Citronella Candles Really Work for Mosquito Control?

Hiker spraying bug spray with DEET
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A vast array of devices are marketed as attracting, repelling, trapping, or killing mosquitoes, but what are they and do they work?

The following information on some of the most common mosquito devices is based on research, reports, and publications of the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and ​North Dakota State University (NDSU).

Citronella Candle (and other citronella-containing devices)

How it works: The candle (or other devices) puts off a citronella odor that is repellent to mosquitoes.


Does citronella work? In areas of limited air movement, the citronella can keep mosquitoes away. However, according to NDSU, the candles, and other citronella-emitting devices, have been shown to be ineffective in open areas.

CO2 Trap

How it works: A CO2 trap eEmits carbon dioxide to attract mosquitoes. When a mosquito flies near, the reverse fan sucks it into a collection bag.
Does CO2 work? There is no scientific evidence that the device reduces the number of mosquitoes in an area or that it will reduce the chance of getting bitten. In fact, if placed near people, the device can draw mosquitoes into the area and potentially attract them to a person before it reaches the trap -- (because humans breathe out CO2.

Light Trap

How it works: UV light attracts mosquitoes into an electrocuting or sticky board trap, on which the insects are killed or caught.
Do light traps work? Although light traps lure a number of flying insects, there is no scientific evidence that the device reduces the number of mosquitoes in an area or that it will reduce the chance of getting bitten.

In fact, if placed near people, the device can draw mosquitoes into the area and potentially attract them to people in the area instead.

Timed Sprays

How it works: For a timed spray, tubing installed around a fence line or perimeter of the home, disperses insecticide on a timed basis.
Do timed sprays work? According to the University of Florida (UF), "It is against good mosquito control practices to advocate the automatic release of pesticides simply based on a timer." Thus, the choice to try such time-released sprays should be based on the presence of mosquitoes rather simply releasing insecticide into the environment without considering environmentally proper mosquito control.

 

Ultrasonic Devices

How it works: The ultrasonic is a battery- or electrically operated device that is worn or set near people to creates sounds to frighten away female mosquitoes (only the female bites humans).
Do ultrasonic devices work? No claims have been scientifically proven to work, nor are the sounds proven to scare away the female. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission charged one manufacturer with making false and unsubstantiated claims because it had no evidence supporting the product claims. According to UF, "There are other manufacturers of ultrasonic devices and there are several versions available in stores. These devices do not kill mosquitoes, repel biting mosquitoes, or protect humans or animals from any mosquito-borne disease."

What Works to Control Mosquitoes?

Mosquito Repellents

Mosquitoes are attracted to the CO2 that humans breathe out as well as our body warmth and odor. As such, repellents that are sprayed onto the body and clothing can provide some protection from these biting bugs. Read more about repellents.

Environmental Controls

Standing water is very attractive to mosquitoes and is essential to breeding. Controlling this and other environmental factors can help reduce mosquitoes around your home.

 

Read the full reports cited in this article at North Dakota State and the University of Florida.