6 questions for a mosquito expert
Every summer we think, ‘This will be the season I beat the bugs.” And every season after two weeks you are locked in your house, staring at your yard, dreaming of enjoying it.
Is Zika something we should be worried about?
Worried, no. Educated, informed and taking preventative measures, yes!
Should we protect ourselves differently from Zika than from other diseases?
Not really. We know that mosquitoes and ticks transmit diseases and that we should use preventative measures to prevent bites. Unlike other mosquito and tick borne diseases it is being reported that the Zika virus can also be transmitted through sexual contact and the exchange of body fluids. Safe sex practices would take care of that, although it now extends to your monogamous partner who may have been bitten by a mosquito with the Zika Virus. That is a wild card.
Do ingredients matter when buying mosquito repellent?
Yes! The CDC recommends the following active ingredients you should use in a repellent: Picaridin, DEET, IR3535, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. What you do need to know is that the % of the active ingredient is important and the higher %, the longer it will provide protection. DEET has long been the gold standard and longest lasting of all active ingredients, but recent studies have shown Picaridin to provide longer periods of protection – up to 12-14 hours versus the up to 10 hours of DEET. Picaridin’s additional benefit is that it is safe on gear. If you are a fisherman, photographer, etc., Picaridin won’t melt your fishing line or damage your camera body. DEET acts as a plasticizer which has been shown to melt plastics when it comes in contact with them.
Do you think natural repellents work?
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus is the only natural active ingredient recommended by the CDC. You can achieve up to 6 hours of protection with Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. There are other natural active ingredient repellents that provide protection, but generally they are of short duration (20 minutes) and would require constant re-application.
Can we combine sunscreen and repellent?
Yes. Apply your sunscreen first and the repellent over the top. Remember to reapply both, in that order, as often as needed,
Are there other products besides sprays that you recommend for camping or just spending time in our back yards?
If the bugs are thick, wear a head net. We just introduced a line of Ben’s Tick & Insect protection head nets that provide maximum visibility and comfort. If you are camping in mosquito and tick areas, use a tent with mosquito netting. I think we can look at what travelers to malaria infested areas have long carried – mosquito netting that hangs from the ceiling and drapes over the bed they are sleeping in, even in hotels! Permethrin based products that you spray on your gear and clothes also provide protection from mosquitoes and ticks.