Myths about Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes have been with us since before there were people, if you go by the fossil record, and it seems like the myths about mosquitoes have been going around just as long. Searching the Internet turns up a lot of handy little tips to repelling mosquitoes which, good as they sound, just don't work. Watch out for these, and you could do the public a favor by informing whoever passes these "tips" along to you that they've been debunked:

Ultrasonic devices: They do not work. Not only for mosquitoes, they don't work to repel anything at all. There is not a single shred of scientific evidence to date to show that any living creature on Earth will consistently avoid the source of an ultrasonic noise. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently conducted two years of tests in the mosquito-ridden area around Chesapeake Bay, trying many types of ultrasound devices purported to repel mosquitoes. Their findings were that not one of them had any noticeable effect on mosquitoes. Various studies have been done in universities which also bear out this fact. Both the EPA and the U.S. Postal Service have gone after the manufacturers of ultrasonic repelling devices for making unsupported claims for their products.

Vitamin B: What a shame! Vitamin B, and particularly B6, has been shown to be effective against other kinds of blood-sucking vermin such as fleas, but not so much against mosquitoes. Vitamin B works on your pet against fleas because it makes their blood and skin taste bad to them. Mosquitoes aren't fazed in the least, even if you douse yourself in brewer's yeast.

Garlic: Why is it every time you're rounding up ways to deter something, garlic always pops up? Why did it have to be garlic? Why not sugar or lemons or iodine? Anyway, garlic doesn't repel mosquitoes either. Ditto for the one million other claims about garlic repelling things, except for the one about garlic repelling other people through bad breath and body odor, which happens to be true.

Bats: Building a bat house is a wonderful thing to do for the environment. Bats are misunderstood creatures, endangered, and they really do perform a service to the world by gobbling up all sorts of flying insects, including some pests. It would be really nice if we could persuade the bats to eat more mosquitoes. Sadly, they'd rather go after beetles, moths, grasshoppers, and cicadas. This is mainly because a mosquito simply isn't big enough to satisfy a bat-sized appetite. Anyway, mosquitoes constitute less than one percent of the average bat's diet. If this is reason enough to help these majestic creatures by sheltering some of them on your property, more power to you.

Incense: Now we're being just plain silly. Incense (the stick kind which you can buy at the mystic's store, anyway) in fact attracts mosquitoes rather than repels them. This myth arises from confusion with citronella candles and torches, which do, indeed, repel mosquitoes.

Bug zappers: But - wait a minute! Electric bug zappers do work; they collect dead bugs in the bottom! Yes, and the next time you clean out the trap, do a head count of species. Lots of flies, moths, bees, dragonflies, ladybugs, and so on; hardly any mosquitoes. If a bug zapper gets a mosquito, it's by pure luck that the mosquito just happened to blunder into it. You'd need about a hundred of them around you to keep from being bitten. You're almost as well off with bats.