Testing remedies for a busy mosquito season

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by Jeremy Campbell

WXIA

Posted on May 27, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 27 at 4:32 PM

ATHENS, Ga. (WXIA) -- May means mosquito season. Does your favorite mosquito remedy really protect you?

Brave Jeremy Campbell put dryer sheets, Off!, and a natural repellent to the test.

"We would expect an active couple of weeks," said Elmer Gray of the University of Georgia's Department of Entomology.

There's an army of supplies waiting to protect you, or so they claim. Not everything works. We called on the UGA Mosquito Lab to face off against a cage filled with 500 mosquitoes.

First, we tried dryer sheets with moderate success.

"Dryer sheets have been reported to be effective, but when you use them for standardize testing they don't hold up for the duration of the testing. They may hold up repelling mosquitoes for the short period, but not for the long periods that the approved products are used for," Gray said.

Up next we sprayed a name brand repellent fueled with Deet. Twenty five percent of its make up was Deet.

"Deet is considered the gold standard of mosquito repellents. It is EPA approved, and has been used for 55 years. It's also approved for children as young as two months of age," Gray said.

It was very effective in our test.

We tried all natural next - no chemicals. A plastic wrist band contained a citronella base, claiming to fight the bite for six days.

The only problem? It only protects around your wrist.

"If you miss an area the mosquitoes will go to it. The bands have not been shown to be as effective as using a product that will get full coverage," Gray said.

Perhaps you don't want to wear repellent at all.

"Citronella candles have been proven to be effective particularly when the air is still. If you're out in an open park where there's air movement they're not going to have much of an effect," Gray said.

With above levels of moisture this year, experts predict a busy June for mosquitoes. Moisture is the key. You can buy plenty of products, but the number one way to keep the bites away involves something simple: avoid standing water near your home. This cuts down on the number of mosquitoes that will hatch around you.

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