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What is the Best Mosquito Spray?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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Choosing the best mosquito spray often depends on the application for which that spray will be used. An insecticide, for example, is much different than an insect repellent. One type of spray is met only to ward off mosquitoes. The other is used to kill the mosquitoes.

The best mosquito spray, as far as a repellent goes, is one that contains DEET, according to most health officials. It has been recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control along with many other medical associations. When used as directed, it is considered to be a very safe product, even for children.

DEET works by not allowing mosquitoes and other biting insects to zero in on a source of carbon dioxide, which is how they often find their victims. Those who choose a concentration of DEET in their mosquito spray will be protected for a certain period of time. Some studies suggest that using 100 percent DEET as directed will provide as many as 10 hours of protection. There is a proportional relationship between the amount of DEET in a product and the length of protection.

In general, for personal protection, using mosquito spray that contains DEET is recommended over using sprays meant to kill. While repellents will not control the mosquito population, they will prevent many bites. For those who want to take a more proactive approach, there are a number of products designed to kill mosquitoes as well.

While not a true mosquito spray in some cases, a larvicide can be sprayed or spread on a body of water to prevent mosquitoes. One of the most common chemicals used in larvicide is Methoprene, a chemical that will kill mosquito larvae but will not harm other aquatic life. This selective killing feature makes it very useful in applications such as backyard fish ponds and farm ponds. Further, killing the mosquitoes before they reach adulthood is also a good way to control future populations and is the most effective way to kill existing populations.

Another type of mosquito spray often applied is through the use of a fogger. Foggers use a variety of insecticides, though their ability to control populations of mosquitoes is generally limited. At most, they may provide a few hours of protection if conditions, such as a lack of wind, are right. Cities often use foggers for large-scale mosquito spray applications, but this material is used over a larger geographic area than home sprayers, maximizing its effectiveness.

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Discussion Comments
By StarJo — On Jun 06, 2012

Does a mosquito fogger actually create a visible fog? It seems like that would be an undesirable atmosphere in which to throw a party, especially during the daytime.

What about when big cities use foggers? Does this blanket the whole city in a haze, making driving conditions hazardous and causing people to wonder where the fire is, or is it invisible?

I find the concept intriguing. I have a backyard pool, and it would be nice to be able to fog the mosquitoes away from it, but I don't want to end up with a big cloud around the area.

By orangey03 — On Jun 05, 2012

My neighbor has a beautiful pond in her front yard. I once asked her how she keeps her yard free of mosquito swarms, because with all that water, she should be covered in them. She told me that she uses a mosquito killer spray on the pond.

It's the kind that kills the larvae. So, though she does have some occasional mosquitoes visit the area, she doesn't have new litters of them being born and rising up from the water.

She is able to have pleasant cookouts and picnics by the water because of the larvicide. This makes me wish that the state parks I frequent could use this on their lakes, but the area of water is just too huge.

By cloudel — On Jun 05, 2012

@shell4life – I think that as long as you are only wearing it now and then for a couple of hours, you shouldn't be at risk for bad side effects. I believe that the people who do get negative effects from using it are the ones who apply it on a daily basis and wear it all day.

I have read that it can cause some scary things to happen. People have experienced a loss of memory, headaches, and overall weakness from it. It sounds like it just confuses you and wears you out.

Though I do use DEET on myself from time to time, I never put it on my children. I have read that children are more vulnerable to it and more likely to suffer from it.

By shell4life — On Jun 04, 2012
I wear a mosquito repellent spray whenever I go to cookouts by the lake. Mosquitoes hang around the lake in droves, and they are especially active around sunset.

My spray does contain DEET. It has a nice bubblegum scent, though, so it is not totally overpowering like many sprays. The bubblegum helps tone down the smell of chemicals.

I have heard some people say that DEET is bad for you, but the spray works so well that I can't imagine not using it. I think that getting covered in mosquito bites and placing myself at risk for developing something like West Nile would be worse than exposing myself to DEET for a few hours.

By tapabrata — On Feb 18, 2009

which is the best mosquito killer coil?

By tapabrata — On Feb 18, 2009

I want to know the actual reason why mosquitoes bite?

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