You may want to think twice before spending your hard-earned money on certain products that promise to repel or kill mosquitoes. Many claims of their success have been proven wrong by scientific study.
Night-flying insects are drawn to the ultraviolet end of the light spectrum, and bug-zappers take advantage of that with a blacklight surrounded by an electrified grid that fries all comers. The problem is, only about 7% of the insects killed are mosquitoes and other biting flies. Bug zappers kill far more helpful insects than they do pest species.
There are now even smartphone apps boasting that certain sound frequencies can drive off mosquitoes (by mimicking an approaching dragonfly, for example). This is complete hogwash. Male mosquitoes locate female mosquitoes in part by the wing beat frequency of the opposite sex, but male mosquitoes don’t bite anyway.
Citronella Candles and Coils
Products that burn citrus oils do have some degree of effectiveness, but usually not enough to matter in the average outdoor barbecue setting. The smoke has to come between you and the mosquitoes, and one device on a table is not going to do the job. Even encircling yourself with such products will hardly have the desired effect.
“Wearable” DEET-infused Products
Wristbands, ankle bracelets, and other items that you can wear that contain DEET are ineffective because mosquitoes will still bite you everywhere else. DEET must be applied to exposed skin in order to work. Mosquitoes will even still land on you, but they won’t bite. DEET blocks a mosquito’s carbon dioxide receptors, so the mosquito assumes that a DEET-treated person is just another object in the landscape.
Backyard Misting Systems
Like the bug zappers, these devices kill far more beneficial insects than harmful ones, and broadcast spraying of insecticides is no longer a recommended strategy for control of any pest species.
Your best alternatives to the above include avoiding hours of peak mosquito activity (typically dusk and dawn), using a DEET-based insect repellent like Ben’s® or a DEET-free insect repellent like Natrapel (a CDC-recommended 20% Picaridin formula) and wearing clothing made of tight-weave synthetic fibers (pants and long sleeves, too).