Protecting Yourself from Pesky Mosquitoes

In Northeast Florida we have seen a significant increase in the number of mosquitoes because of the standing water left by Hurricane Irma.  While local mosquito control districts try to knock back the mosquito population there are steps that we can personally take to protect ourselves and our families.

The most effective ways to protect yourself is to wear protective clothing when exposed to mosquitoes (e.g., long sleeves and pants) and use effective repellents.  Repellents that are currently available are either synthetic chemicals, such as DEET, or plant derived chemicals such as citronella.

Various formulations of these repellents are available that differ in the amount of active ingredient, which is the substance that actually repels the mosquito. These products are available as sprays, wipe-on’s, sticks, foams, and lotions. It is very important to read the label before using any mosquito repellent and remember that there are different recommendations for frequency of application for different repellents. Below is an overview of common products, their active ingredients, and protection time:

Product Name Active Ingredient Protection Time
Off! Deep Woods 23.8% DEET 5 hours
Sawyer Controlled Release 20% DEET 4 hours
Off!  Skintastic 6.65% DEET 2 hours
Bite Blocker for Kids 2% soybean oil 2 hours
Off! Skintastic for Kids 4.75% DEET 1.5 hours
Skin-so-Soft Bug Guard Plus 7.5% IR3535 23 minutes
Natrapel 10% citronella 20 minutes
Herbal Armor 12% citronella, 2.5% peppermint oil, 2% cedar oil, 1% lemongrass oil, 0.5% geranium oil 19 minutes

Understanding your options as well as the active ingredient and associated protection time can go a long way in protecting yourself from mosquitoes. For a more detailed description of how repellents work access this Mosquito Repellents document from UF/IFAS Extension.