Investigative

Amid Zika Virus Fears, What's The Best Way To Keep Mosquitoes Away?


As the world remains on edge from the spectre of the Zika virus, do you know which mosquito repellents are the most effective?

With many people now worried about a possible outbreak hitting our shores, it's worth questioning whether the chemicals on store shelves will work this summer.

To find out, Inside Edition went to the United States Department of Agriculture Center for Medical, Agricultural & Veterinary Entomology Mosquito and Fly Research Unit in Gainesville, FL headed by Ulrich Bernier. Under Bernier’s guidance three volunteers, including IE producer Charlie McLravy, exposed their arms to hundreds of hungry mosquitos inside special testing cages.

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“The mosquitos here are all Zika free,” assured Bernier.

The first products tested all contained the chemical DEET. It's the active ingredient in many spray repellants like OFF, Cutter and Repel, which all worked in fighting off the mosquitos. None of our volunteers got a single bite.

For those that prefer not to use DEET, a popular alternative is mosquito repellents made from natural plants.

“She's got lemon eucalyptus oil on her arm that she just applied. This repellant should work very well,” Bernier said.

This repellent was also effective; no bites.

The group then tried two anti-bug bracelets, which claim to repel mosquitos by releasing a natural, plant-based ingredient called geraniol.

With the bracelets on and their arms in the testing cages, it didn’t take long before several mosquitos began to land and feed on our volunteers.

Our experts say the bracelets failed.

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“It was not effective in keeping mosquitos away,” Dr. Bernier said.

The company that makes the bracelets disputes our testing methods and results, saying their product is effective and they have millions of satisfied customers.

Many homeowners swear by Citronella candles, especially for outdoor cookouts. To see how effective they are, Bernier released 500 mosquitos into a special outdoor cage while McLravy lit a single candle.

As the flame flickered, mosquitos began to land on both their faces and arms. Experts say Citronella is effective, but multiple candles must be used to cover the area you are trying to protect.

There is growing concern about the impact of the Zika virus on the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Recently, a respected professor actually recommended the games be relocated or postponed, calling it a potential public health disaster.

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