Mosquitoes have long caused Americans trouble with their itchy bites, but the arrival of Zika virus in the United States has created a fair level of panic over the danger of the virus to pregnant women.

Fetuses carried by pregnant women are in danger of developing microcephaly, which is a condition where the pregnancy results in a child with incomplete brain development and an abnormally small head.

As of the summer of 2016, no vaccine exists to prevent the disease, which means it’s more important than ever to protect yourself against mosquito bites. In addition to working with a pest control service, there are a variety of repellents also available for this purpose.

Finding Effective Insect Repellents

Eliminating standing water and removing features around your home that may prove attractive to mosquitoes (those old tires in the backyard, for example) may reduce the number of mosquitoes in the general vicinity. There are also some repellents you can use that are made from various chemicals.

Repellents commonly include one or more of the following:

  • Picaridin
  • Eucalyptus
  • Deet
  • Cedar
  • Citronella
  • Rosemary

Some insect repellents are described as “natural” and others are made of chemical-sounding names, but manufacturers have tested their repellents to ensure all types are safe for use on humans.

According to a write-up by Consumer Reports on the effectiveness of mosquito repellents:

“The most effective products against Aedes mosquitoes were Sawyer Picaridin and Natrapel 8 Hour, which each contain 20 percent picaridin, and Off! Deepwoods VIII, which contains 25 percent deet. They kept the mosquitoes from biting for about 8 hours. (The Sawyer product was our top insect repellent overall. It was the only one that also kept Culex mosquitoes, which can spread West Nile disease, and deer ticks, which can spread Lyme disease, away for at least 8 hours.)”

Repelling the Aedes Mosquito

There are dozens and dozens of different types of mosquitoes, but it’s the Aedes mosquito that carries Zika. This mosquito is common in South America, and it’s one of the reasons so many people have been impacted by the virus.

In the United States, the mosquito is found in places like Florida, as well as in many of the southern states. Although there isn’t yet a case of someone catching the virus from a bite sustained inside the United States, experts feel it’s only a matter of time until someone catches Zika from an American-born mosquito.

If you’re a fan of natural mosquito repellents, you should know that products made of natural plant oils haven’t fared well in testing. The tests conducted by Consumer Reports actually found that some repellents failed within an hour of application, and others failed immediately. Oils like citronella, lemongrass, and cedar weren’t seen as particularly effective against mosquitoes.

Using Mosquito Repellents Effectively

It’s not enough to know which repellent is the most effective for repelling mosquitoes. It’s also essential to use insect repellents in the right manner. For example, it’s not necessary to strip down and apply mosquito repellent under the clothing. Applying repellent only to areas of exposed skin and on top of the clothing is enough.

Additionally, it’s important to avoid applying repellent over wounds and cuts, as well as keep the repellent away from areas like your eyes and mouth. It’s also not a good idea to spray it near your ears. Spraying it on your hand and rubbing it around your ear with your fingers is a better method of application.

Work with BugHead Pest Control

Are you worried about Zika virus? Do you want more protection from mosquitoes than you might get from a traditional insect repellent? Let BugHead Pest Control inspect your home or property and advise on steps you can take to protect your family from mosquitoes and the Zika virus.