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Battling Bugs

Ways to repel mosquitoes this summer



    Liz Crenshaw and entomologist Mike Raupp give us some tips for avoiding those pesky mosquitoes this summer. (Published Friday, May 25, 2012)

    Mosquitoes are out earlier than usual this year, and they’re multiplying -- fast.

    Mike Raupp, professor and entomologist at the University of Maryland, has lots of tips for keeping the bugs at bay this summer.

    A good repellent can often make all the difference. Raupp said that consumers should look for DEET on the ingredient list to really repel those mosquitoes. “DEET is the gold standard of mosquito repellents … It’s very long lasting,” Raupp said.

    If you want to use something other than DEET, there are effective alternatives. Look for a compound called picaridin, which will give you almost as much protection as DEET and should last up to eight hours, according to Raupp.

    There are some natural alternatives as well. Check out repellents derived from soybeans, which can give you three to four hours of good protection. Another option is a repellent made out of wild tomatoes. You also might consider getting a lemon eucalyptus plant -- the oil derived from this plant actually acts as a repellent.

    Mosquito-repellent clothing might also be a good option, and Raupp said this clothing will help repel the bugs for about 20 washings.

    There are also things you can do around your yard to prevent the bugs from multiplying. Clean out blocked gutters, which will help drain out the excess moisture that can pool up. Also, empty out your bird baths, which are mosquito breeders in the summer. If you have a small lake in your backyard, consider buying mosquito dunks that will help kill larvae.