Like most people in other parts of the world, Nigerians daily contend with the pesky nuisance that mosquitoes constitute beyond the malaria and other disease conditions they cause.
In just about any supermarket in Nigeria, anybody can buy various insecticides like Shelltox, Raid or Mortein. Also in markets in some parts of the major cities, you find people touting various chemical formulations, such as the popular otapiapia, meant to kill mosquitoes or at least drive them off.
In recent times, mosquito repellents that can be rubbed on the arms, legs and some other exposed parts of the body to ward off the pesky insects have gained popularity. This is more so in the Nigerian setting where it is the practice for adherents of the Christian faith to attend vigils in the hundreds of church denominations. Notwithstanding their appeal, a good number of these repellents are simply not effective and a pure waste of money. So how does one know the right and effective repellent to use? Below is a rundown of useful mosquito repellents. Non-effective others are also listed.
DEET is the abbreviated name of the chemical N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, which is also called diethyltoluamide. It is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents. It is a slightly yellow oil intended to be applied to the skin or on clothing. It provides protection against mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, chiggers, leeches and many biting insects. A repellent with DEET tells mosquitos to buzz off loud and clear. Such repellent needs to have at least 20 per cent DEET content to give effective protection to the skin for several hours at a time, although more than 50 per cent doesn’t work any better. If it is to be used on the exposed parts of a child’s body, the repellent should have 10-30 per cent DEET. This repellent is quite safe for almost everyone, and if used as directed, it should be okay for pregnant and nursing women and for babies that are more than 2 months old.
Whether in a spray, lotion, or wipes, picaridin is another ingredient approved by the United States Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) for use in repellents. It works well as a skin barrier for mosquitoes. It’s a plant-based compound that can be found as a component in products like Cutter Advanced and Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus. It’s also safe for kids and pregnant women.
You can get this man-made mosquito-blocking compound in Avon’s Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535 Expedition. It is equally approved by EPA and will keep off mosquitoes for several hours. Both pregnant women and children can use it.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus
OLE is EPA-approved and effective for warding off mosquitoes. You can get it (or its synthetic version, PMD) in products like Repel and Off! Botanicals. However, please ignore “pure” OLE (the oil alone which is not in a repellent). It hasn’t been tested for safety, neither is it recommended for use in this regard by any credible certification agency such as the EPA.
This chemical, also called BioUD, comes from tomatoes. It’s available in BiteBlocker, and some studies say it works as well as products with 30% DEET.
Using wristband as a repellent is a fallacy you wonder how it began. Even when they’re soaked in repellent, wristbands don’t do much to keep mosquito bites at bay. They only block bites for the skinny strip of wrist they cover, leaving the rest of your body as bug buffet.
Citronella is a common ingredient in products made to repel mosquitoes. Though it may work as a brief buffer to bites, it’s not a serious solution. Likewise, candles with citronella won’t really help.
Plant-based oils like lemongrass, cedar, eucalyptus, peppermint, soybean, lavender, and geranium may be popular, but studies haven’t shown any evidence that they ward off mosquitoes from snacking on you. Some might irritate your skin.
Garlic and Vitamin B
It would be great if swallowing a simple pill or clove worked as a cure-all for mosquito magnetism. Sadly, scientists say proof is lacking to declare those methods a solution.
Lay off the lights that are intended to lure bugs in. They don’t make much of a difference. And you may actually be inviting more mosquitoes to your yard.
These gadgets send out high-frequency sound that is meant to drive away pests. There’s a chance they might work on crickets, but studies say mosquitoes are unbothered by the sound
If mosquitoes can’t get to the skin, they can’t bite it. When possible, wear long sleeves, pants, and a hat when you know you’ll be in a mosquito-infested area. If you have to attend a vigil, tuck your shirttail into your pants and wear thick sucks to prevent mosquito bites.
Don’t allow stagnant water around you
Stop mosquitoes before they hatch by ridding your compound of stagnant water, which is their favourite breeding ground. It doesn’t take much moisture for them to lay their eggs. Any used can filled with rainwater is enough to serve as breeding point for mosquito. Therefore, drain any water pool where you can, and clear out anything that might collect it, like tires or pots.
Outdoor sprays can temporarily banish mosquitoes. But these chemicals can be harmful if anybody or pets in the place come into contact with them while they’re still wet or in the air. Keep windows closed during treatment, and stay out of your compound until everything is dry.
• Adapted from webmd.com