Keep mosquitoes away with electric fans | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Lito Lapid might have done more with the P20 million for dengue control from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) if he bought electric fans instead of, as the Inquirer reported, garbage deodorizer.


Alesandra Dubin, in the website iVillage, said the best (possibly cheapest, too) mosquito repellent is the electric fan. She cited information that the New York Times got from Frank Swift, president of Swift Food Equipment, Inc. Swift said he got the “solution” from “trying to think like a bug and realizing I don’t like flying into a 15-mph (miles per hour) wind.”


Swift was supported by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) which said mosquitoes, transmitter of such deadly diseases as dengue and malaria, “are relatively weak fliers, so placing a large fan… can provide a low-tech solution.”


Dubin said science cited by the NY Times said a fan also “disperses the human emanations” that allowed mosquitoes to target humans.


I visited the AMCA’s FAQ (frequently asked questions) site and found its assessment of mosquito-control gadgets and products like bug zappers and ultrasonic devices very informative.


Unwanted consequence


AMCA said two University of Notre Dame studies found that mosquitoes killed by black light “electrocution” devices “comprised merely 4.1 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively, of the daily catch over an entire season.” Both studies found no significant difference in the number of mosquitoes in yards with or without bug zappers.


The devices had an unwanted consequence, as they killed mostly non-pest insects that were food for other creatures or helped control other pests. As for ultrasonic devices, AMCA said at least 10 studies in the past 15 years found the gadgets “as having no repellency value whatsoever.”


Said the report: “A pioneering study testing five different ultrasonic devices against four mosquito species convincingly demonstrated that ultrasound in the 20-70 kHz range used by these devices had no effect on reorienting flight by female mosquitoes either toward or away from human subjects. Additional tests have shown that sound generators capable of a wide range of frequencies were also ineffective…”


As AMCA stated: “The fact is that these devices just do not work.”


Natural repellents


The website  Care2 Healthy Living offers a few natural mosquito-control measures. Citing research at Iowa State University, Care2 says essential oil in catnip, which drives cats wild, hence the name, is “about 10 times more effective than DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide, a popular anti-bug ingredient) in repelling mosquitoes.”


Citronella may not be as effective as catnip, but is still a better option than chemicals, Care2 says. Eating a lot of fresh garlic will repel mosquitoes, although it may also keep humans away.


Lavender is a sweet-smelling way to keep mosquitoes away. Care2 suggests diluting it in carrier oil like apricot kernel, sweet almond or coconut. Organic soy oil will strengthen lavender’s repellent properties.


Care2 says research cited in The New England Journal of Medicine found that “repellents made of soybean oil are just as effective as DEET-containing repellents.”


A study by the United States National Research Council, Care2 says, shows that neem oil is more effective than DEET, while new research published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine shows that lotus keeps mosquitoes away and also helps kill larvae. Care2 adds: “It is a good option as a natural repellent in backyard ponds and water features rather than something that is applied topically.”


Research also found black pepper to be effective in repelling mosquitoes.


Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail

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