Mosquito repellents: Separating fact from fiction



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Posted on June 20, 2012 at 5:15 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 20 at 5:21 PM

DALLAS — Two drops of water is all it takes to breed mosquitoes in your back yard. So what are you doing to prevent West Nile virus?

Tony Jenkins, the assistant director of environmental health for the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department, said there are options besides DEET-based insecticides, starting with garlic.

“Garlic is an insect repellent... it really is,” he said.

You can eat it and you can plant it — either way, mosquitoes don't like it.

“Wherever that area is, and wherever the aromatics tend to penetrate, that would help to do some mosquito reduction around your house,” Jenkins said.

Planting mint in your garden works, too. But you'd have to have a lot of it. Basil, despite public opinion, doesn't work.

“Just the mint — I've heard of the mint," Jenkins said. "I've actually seen the mint work, as far as keeping the insects away.”

Another flop? Some people believe turning on a fan will rid an area of mosquitoes.

“Well, I would say that that one came from somewhere else,” Jenkins said with a laugh.

He said, however, that lemon eucalyptus oil can be a good repellent.

Standing water is the obvious culprit for mosquito breeding, but most people don't look up. Gutters are also a common breeding ground.

As for mosquito misters, the health department doesn't suggest them. Over time, the insects build up resistance to the pesticide and pass that on to their babies.

Eventually, it won't work at all.

“I would go with the true and known remedies for these things,” Jenkins said.