Today, with Zika cropping up in Miami, a host of products and services claim to stop mosquitoes: natural or synthetic repellents; high-tech clothing; noise makers; citronella candles and a variety of repellent burners or other devices intended to create a bubble of protection. If you’re willing to spend more money, you can hook up a repellent distributor to your sprinkler or install a mister system along the roof eaves.
While South Florida’s mosquito control agencies have tackled marsh mosquitoes with larvicides and aerial- and truck-spraying methods, the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti is more of a challenge — a suburban invader that can breed in a bottlecap of water and requires house-to-house combat. It usually stays within 150 yards of its birthplace.
“Zika is a manmade issue,” says Beth Ranson, spokeswoman for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board. “Typically, it’s the neighbor or yourself that is causing the problem. So making it a community effort is very important.”
These latest devices and services all have supporters, but many experts, like the American Mosquito Control Association, say their results have been mixed. They say the best advice may still be the basics: Dump the rain water that collects around your yard, wear long sleeves outside and douse yourself in repellent, particularly stuff with DEET.
Here’s a look at some household treatment options: Sprinkler systems
When you water your lawn to give it that green glow, you can add something extra to ward off mosquitoes. Several companies sell natural oil extracts like garlic, citronella, rosemary, cedar, lemongrass, geraniol and thyme. You can purchase a machine that automatically distributes the concentrate to your sprinkler system — they go for about $1,800 from Sprinkler Magician. Or, to save money, you can buy just the solution for around $130 per gallon and use a hand- or battery-powered sprayer.
“Just because it’s a natural product doesn’t mean it can’t kill mosquitoes,” said Peter Olt, CEO of Sprinkler Magician. He said the company has done lab testing that shows the product’s effectiveness against mosquitoes, and that he has heard reports from customers that it works on other biting insects like red ants and gnats.