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Unravelling the Myths of Mosquito Repellants

Unravelling the Myths of Mosquito Repellants

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingNo deaths have been attributed to the West Nile Virus in Utah so far, but it has infected 70 people in California, killing two. Many people are -skittish about using insect repellent, and want to try alternative methods.

A lot of people don't like using insect repellent, but if you don't take the proper steps, you could be wasting your time and your money, and risking your health.

Mosquitoes - female mosquitoes - want to suck your blood. In hopes of changing the laws of attraction, some have turned to Bounce fabric softener - just wipe on and go. Others swear by Vick's Vapo-Rub, giving up bananas, or taking a daily dose of vitamin b-1 or garlic to keep bugs at bay.

Now for the reality check. There is no compelling scientific evidence any of these products work. Experts say the best way to get mosquitoes to buzz off is to use a tried and true insect repellent.

Researchers in Florida tried a bunch of brands. From pesticides to botanicals, they sprayed the arms of volunteers who then stuck them into a box with ten mosquitoes. The results are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Some products repelled mosquitoes longer than others, and included:

--OFF! Deep Woods with twenty-four percent DEET kept them off for five hours.

--Bite Blocker for kids with soybean oil, an hour and a half.

--Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus which Contains IR Thirty Five, a little over twenty minutes.

-- Other products containing Citronella or other botanicals worked from three to less than twenty minutes.

As for DEET, there's a whole host of products of varying strengths. You may not need the strongest thirteen hour repellent unless you're hiking or camping. And with DEET you need to read the label carefully, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Here's another myth -- these products don't actually repel mosquitoes, they confuse them - kinda like a smoke screen. Most repellents when applied to the skin emit a thin cloud of molecules. When a mosquito approaches, it clogs the bug's sensory organs and the bug moves on to other prey.

Are mosquitoes more attracted to some people than others? The bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide, heat, lactic acid – all things humans emit. They also go after motion, so swatting away at mosquitoes might actually be inviting them to dinner.

Experts say mosquitoes actually prefer biting adults over children, women over men and pregnant women the most.

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