Do Mosquito Sprays, Traps, or Yard Treatments Really Work?

Posted by Steve Vincent on Jul 12, 2016 2:42:58 PM

In Triad Life

Mosquito bites are as much a part of summer outdoors as the smell of sunscreen and the sound of sprinklers. Unfortunately, they’re not just an itchy nuisance – for years, we’ve been hearing about certain types of mosquitoes carrying disease like West Nile Virus, and now there’s the threat of the frightening Zika Virus. Not surprisingly, Americans are nearly obsessed with mosquito control, but it’s hard to be absolutely certain which mosquito control method is most effective. Plus, many of us have fears about the chemicals in most bug-fighting sprays.

Do citronella candles really work against mosquitos? Do citronella candles really work against mosquitos?

We don’t claim this is scientific or definitive, but we’ve put together a summary of information about some of the most popular mosquito control products, along with their pros and cons. If you have any experience with other products or testimonials about any particular brand, comment below so we can learn from your experience.

Bug Sprays: Tried and True

We mentioned the smell of sunscreen, but who doesn’t know exactly what bug spray smells like? There’s a reason topical sprays for repelling bugs like mosquitoes and ticks have been around for so long – they work. A Consumer Reports study recently tested a variety of mosquito repellants including DEET, picaridin and other chemicals, as well as many that rely on plant oils like citronella, lemongrass, and rosemary. Top recommended sprays the authors recommend include: Sawyer Picaridin, Natrapel 8-Hour, Off! Deepwoods VIII, Ben’s 30% DEET Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula, and Repel Lemon Eucalyptus.

Every source we could find recommended choosing products that contain 20-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin, and recent news has focused on the efficacy of lemon eucalyptus oil (at least 30%) sprays and lotions. All in all, it seems that the best defense against mosquito bites is careful covering of any exposed skin with mosquito spray or lotion. At outdoor companies like REI, you can also find a chemical called peremthrin, which is used to treat clothing to make it mosquito repellant.

Yard Sprays: Fairly Effective

Many of our neighbors are big fans of yard treatments – either DIY sprays or granules purchased at hardware stores or treatment services provided by companies like Mosquito Squad and Terminix. These products work by coating grass and shrubs with insecticidal oils that will repel mosquitoes without being a hazard to children or pets. Some sprays and “foggers” are effective for a few days, while others control mosquitos for as long as 2-3 weeks. In general, reviews of yard treatments are good, provided you treat the area BEFORE the worst bug season and keep standing water drained from your yard. The significant drawback of these insect sprays is that they may kill beneficial insects—such as important pollinators like bees and butterflies—along with mosquitoes.

Mosquito Candles and Coils: Not So Much

Everyone knows the smell of citronella candles – here in the South, most of us have one or two on our porch or patio. Citronella candles, torches, and coils all work by releasing a scent that mosquitos want to avoid, and they’re a standby for localized mosquito control. Evidence shows that these scent-based mosquito control solutions can be only somewhat effective; they are only able to reduce mosquitoes in a very small area, and they only reduce mosquitoes, not eliminate them. In addition, some people are sensitive to their strong odor.

There are often articles on Facebook and other sites suggesting planting mosquito-repellant plants near patios and porches. Unfortunately, while they may smell lovely and cause a tiny reduction in the mosquito density of the area, they are simply not a reliable mosquito control solution.

Here’s to a mosquito-free summer! Keep yourselves safe, but get outside to enjoy all that the Piedmont Triad has to offer…or venture further afield for mountains or sea.


If summertime requires a change of job, a change of pace, or a change of scenery, let us help you buy and/or sell your home.  The Vincent Group at GreatNest is a full-service real estate company serving buyers and sellers in Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem, Summerfield, Oak Ridge, Jamestown, and other Piedmont Triad areas. We look forward to saving you money by charging a low set fee instead of a percentage commission. Please get in touch with our experienced real estate professionals by calling (336) 790-5210 or by emailing Steve Vincent.  Visit our website at


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