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The Best Way for Texans to Fight Mosquitoes

With one confirmed West Nile virus-related death in Travis County, and spraying for mosquitos in Dallas, many Central Texans are wondering what they can do to keep mosquitos away.

Some have turned to some quirky alternatives to make sure mosquitos keep away – including a bracelet makers say acts as a mosquito repellent.

According to one product’s website, these bracelets essentially work by producing an “aura” of plant-based oils that act like a protective shield – something they say mosquitos won’t like at all. But according to Dr. Phil Huang, the medical director for the Travis County Health and Human Services, such bracelets might not be that effective.

“I think there’s actually a study conducted by the Canadian Family Physicians group where they actually tested the bracelet against other repellents,” Huang said. “And the bracelet and bands did not seem to have a positive effect.” A similar study says that products with DEET – a common ingredient found in insect repellent – are the most effective ones.

And if you’re heading to the store to buy your DEET-based repellent, you might also find the produce section a little bare. That’s because eating bananas is rumored to keep away the buzzing insects. Doctor Huang says there’s no definitive connection between the two. But still, there’s other alternatives.

The Houston-based Mosquito Company offers a misting system that repels and kills mosquitos. The president of the company, Steve Blalock, says his product is “very similar to systems that you might find in a restaurant or a bar, which a lot of places in Austin have to keep the air cool – same premise, they atomize the water molecules to create a mist.” That mist sprays a variety of either natural or synthetic pesticides that Blalock says repel or kill the insects.

When it comes to mosquito repellents like misters and bracelets, Doctor Huang says repellent ingredients like DEET work best. But while Blalock is somewhat skeptical of the chemicals like DEET, he agrees that it comes down to what’s in the product and not the product itself.

“Certainly it has to do with what’s in it. If you’re spraying water it’s not going to do much to get rid of mosquitoes. But if you’re spraying DEET that kills everything in sight – probably including the humans – then it works pretty well. So certainly it has to do something with what’s in it.”

In the end, Doctor Huang says it’s best to rely on what’s known to be effective. He recommends staying indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitos are most active. It’s the best way to make sure mosquitoes don’t bug you – or worse. 

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