NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Mosquito Defense

mosquitoHave you been reaching for the “bug spray” to defend yourself against mosquitoes and other summer insects lately?  Choosing and using chemical or natural insect repellents properly can help protect you and your children from insect bites and potentially serious diseases.  Be sure to read, understand, and follow the label directions, especially any warning regarding to the suitability of the product for use on young children.  Insect repellents should never be used on babies younger than two months of age. Adults should apply, or supervise, the application of the repellent to children, and avoid getting any on the child’s hands since they are likely to eat with their fingers or put their fingers in their mouth or eyes. 


Insect repellents should be applied sparingly, but sunscreen products need to be applied frequently.  Therefore, do not use any product that combines insect repellents with a sunscreen.  In addition to the differences in application frequency, insect repellents such as DEET can reduce the sun protection factor (SPF) of a sunscreen product by one-third.

To treat your face, neck, and ears, spray the repellent onto your hands, then touch your hands to those areas, being careful to avoid getting too close to your eyes.  If a person has an allergic reaction to the product, immediately discontinue using it and wash the skin thoroughly with soap and water.  Call a medical care provider or the Poison Center (1-800-222-1222) if the reaction continues or there is any other emergency related to use of the product.

The effectiveness of any repellent in any form (aerosol or non-aerosol spray, stick, or lotion) will vary with the level of concentration of the active ingredient(s).  A low-level concentration of active ingredients will have a shorter protection time and should be used when you will have minimal exposure to insects.  Products with high concentrations of active ingredients have longer protection times and are recommended for use when you will be outside for a longer period of time or are in an area that has a greater number of biting insects.

DEET is generally acknowledged as being the most effective active ingredient in mosquito repellents available at this time.  Its effectiveness will vary with the level of concentration, as noted above. For example, a 30% concentration is rated to last about six hours, while a 5% concentration is rated to last only about two hours.

Picardin, soybean oil, and oil of lemon eucalyptus are non-DEET repellents are available for people who prefer to use natural plant-based products.  A chart of consumer guidance on these products is available online at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/vision/eatsmart/eat-smart.-play-hard.-magazines-1/2014-2015-eat-smart.-play-hard.-magazine-1/q-and-a-about-insect-repellents-and-protecting-children-from-insect-bites.

Avoid wasting your money on products that are not effective at repelling biting insects.  This would include ultrasonic devices, backyard bird/bat houses, consuming garlic or vitamin B1, backyard bug zappers, and wristbands soaked in insect repellents.

Use insect netting when possible, avoid the use of perfumes and other scents that attract biting insects, avoid wearing bright colors or flowery prints that attract biting insects, and take advantage of other practices to avoid insect bites and protect your children.  Summer is here – let’s be safe while we enjoy it!

More information on this topic is available at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/extension/features/protect-your-children-from-insect-bites-with-or-without-repellent

Source:  Janet Knodel, NDSU Extension Entomologist, http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/vision/eatsmart/eat-smart.-play-hard.-magazines-1/2014-2015-eat-smart.-play-hard.-magazine-1/q-and-a-about-insect-repellents-and-protecting-children-from-insect-bites

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