War on mosquitoes: all the advice to defend yourself from bites

How do you defend yourself against stings when you are outdoors? We have tested insecticides, pawpaws and mosquito traps. Some systems actually work. But watch out for the expensive and above all useless ones.

In summer, you know, being outdoors is more pleasant. But how much are we disturbed by the mosquitoes that arrive in droves on time? Don’t worry. There are several products on the market that can protect you from mosquito invasion. But not all of them are as effective as they say, nor is the saving always guaranteed. So here is all the advice to avoid spending large amounts of money on a really poor mosquito reduction.

Anti-mosquito products: which to choose

Is it true that the products that promise to defend our green spaces from insects are not lacking, but do they really do their duty? We have tested different types of mosquito repellents for outdoor use, from spirals to sprays, from lanterns to traps, and we have found that no one guarantees 100% protection. Some, however, are more useful than others. And some very expensive ones (even more than 100 euros in one case) are really of little use.

If you are looking for a mosquito repellent product we help you to choose the one that best suits your needs at a reasonable price.

How mosquito repellents work

The repellents and insecticides contain active ingredients designed to prevent the female mosquito from locating the person or to kill or stun mosquitoes that come into contact with them. The actions are different, but in reality not always easily distinguishable. We have put together in a single category different products: five sprays, three products that act by combustion (spirals and sticks), and a candle diffuser that acts with heat. All are based on the emission of an insecticide. Another method to free an open space from mosquitoes is to capture or repel them; three products of the test act according to this mechanism: two traps that aim at trapping mosquitoes, combining the chemical attraction action of carbon dioxide or octenol with visual stimulation produced by ultraviolet lights, together with the mechanical action of suction fans, which retain mosquitoes inside the trap. Finally, in the test there is an electric racket, which has a repelling and knocking down action and kills the mosquitoes instantly when they come into contact with the electrified grid.

The products tested

Efficacy tests were conducted in the Bolognese plain in a green area of over two hectares. We identified 13 points where to test the different protective devices, at least 25 meters apart from each other to avoid interference between them. In each test session, the operator would sit in each of the 13 positions with arms and legs uncovered and with a portable battery operated vacuum cleaner would catch all mosquitoes that approached or landed on him. There were 12 products in total, the thirteenth station served as a comparison: here we did not use any device. All products were tested in all areas of the park. The operators used each product following the instructions on the label on how and when to use it.

Here are the tested products:

  1. Spirals and sticks: this is the category of products that proved to be the most effective in our test, thanks to the action of d-Alletrine released by combustion. With these products, the reduction of catches was between 41 and 67% compared to where there is no protection. Our opinion: strategically placed in green spaces, they help to limit discomfort.
  2. Rackets: with this racket you will not beat any mosquito catch record anyway. Our opinion: lots of effort, mediocre results. Recommended only if the discomfort is due to individual mosquitoes, not widespread exposure.
  3. Spray: the five Transfluthrin-based environmental spray insecticides we tested (not to be sprayed on, but on plants and other surfaces in the outdoor area where we stop), led to a reduction in catches between 29 and 48%. The best performance were those of Outdoor Raid, which contains two different pyrethroid active ingredients. Our opinion: they are not the most advisable type of product. They act in a broad spectrum on different insects, their action is limited in time, but the insecticide molecules remain in the environment for a while. Use only if you do not have more effective alternatives.
  4. Lanterns: the heat of the candle makes the substances contained in the plate come into action, but with mediocre results: it reduces catches by only 26%. Our opinion: less “smoky” than the pips and sticks, but from the point of view of mosquitoes does not keep its promises.
  5. Traps: they attract mosquitoes and then trap them with the fan, but reduce their presence by only 10-16%. Our opinion: uncomfortable devices (must be attached to a socket), expensive and overall ineffective.

Total protection not assured

No product has been able to provide total protection for operators, but some systems have shown a much higher rate of protection than others. Considering all the mosquito species caught, the devices that significantly reduced the number of catches were the Mondo Verde spiral, the Flortis sticks and, to a lesser extent, the Outdoor Raid spray. The most disappointing performances were those of the Universal Trap by MAB and Pac Zan by Sandokan.

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