Myriad mosquito repellents available, but results vary
It rained last week and you know what that means: mosquitoes. Clouds of them.
What the outdoors people use
Mary Hicks, Coastal Expedition: Avon Skin So Soft. “It’s not so good against mosquitoes. It works better against gnats.”
Bob Able, Ables Landscape Associates: standard DEET spray. “Mosquitoes are very territorial. They stay close to where they’re hatched. Keep your lot clear.”
Horticulturist and Post and Courier gardening columnist Tony Bertauski: Standard DEET spray. “My best defense is to have my kids and my wife around me, because mosquitoes flock to them before they come to me.”
Dwight Williams, Cypress Gardens: Larvicide briquets dropped into standing water, where mosquitoes lay eggs. “It’s environmentally safer.”
Botanist Jean Everett: Zen meditation. A head net when mosquitoes get bad. “I tell myself that they’re there but they’re not going to bother me, and it works. I don’t want to pollute the environment. I don’t think there’s a repellent that works and the ones that work a little only work a short time.”
Even in a year as skeeter-thick as this one, the nasty bugs wouldn’t seem to have a chance. There’s an armory of repellents on any store shelf: sprays and hose sprays, rubs, wipes, sticks, clip-ons, circulating fans, coils, candles, magnets, traps, bracelets, zappers, chips, pellets, “dunks,” stakes and foggers.
You have a choice of chemicals: metofluthrin, d-cis/transallethrin, picaridin or pyrethrum.
You can go native: citronella, eucalyptus, geranium oil or cedar oil.
You can even install lawn misting nozzles that work like sprinklers.
The neighbors all swear by their favorites. The little jabbers are still out there by the zillions.
You can spend a couple of dollars or a couple of thousand to keep them away, with results that vary.
Or you can keep it simple: DEET.
Diethyl-meta-toluamide, invented for the Army in World War II, is one of two chemicals recommended by the Centers for Disease Control because they worked better and longer in scientific trials.
The other is picaridin. The CDC also likes lemon eucalyptus oil, but says it’s not as strong.
“DEET. That’s what we recommend and that’s what we stick with,” says Donna Odom, Charleston County mosquito control superintendent.
Sure, the stuff melts plastic and numbs your lip. It can cause everything from mild skin irritation to death, according to the CDC.
“Yeah, the DEET’s poison,” said outfitter Chris Crolley with Coastal Expeditions. “But it’s the only stuff that works.”
Not that Crolley uses it. He sticks to the basics, long sleeves and pants, bandana and hat. When the mass of needle-nosed insects got “as bad as I’ve ever seen,” he said, on Little St. Simons Island, Ga., last week, he did try the eucalyptus. That worked pretty well, he said.
But natural doesn’t always fend off nature.
Mary Hicks, of Coastal Expeditions, slathered on an entire bottle of natural insect repellent during a recent, mosquito-infested trip on the Bull’s Island trails. “It didn’t really do much.”
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on Twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.