Clearing Out Mosquitoes

From candles to wristbands, what keeps the bugs away?
Nothing ruins a summer night like a bunch of bug bites. Lots of products claim to protect you from pesky mosquitoes, but many of them contain chemicals you don't necessarily want to spray on yourself or your kids. Consumer Reports took to the labs to look at alternative ways to keep the bugs from biting.

Like many people, Roz and Joe Carvin considered their backyard a summer oasis -- until the mosquitoes took over. Roz says it's pretty unpleasant for everybody: "What we've done is just stick a bottle of some sort of mosquito repellent on the table and just advise everybody to lather up."

Not a fan of bug spray? Consumer Reports looked at alternative repellents, like candles, diffusers and wristbands. Testers suited up, and filed into an enclosed room meant to simulate a mock-picnic area, complete with 250 mosquitoes.

The first line of defense? An $8.50 Off! Citronella candle. Then they counted how often mosquitoes landed on the testers. They repeated the test with this $20 bug band portable diffuser, which releases a different plant oil. Neither the candle nor the diffuser kept mosquitoes away.

How about wristbands? If you're a tester with your arm inside a cage full of mosquitoes, you don't want to be counting on them either! Sue Byrne of Consumer Reports: "The wristbands contain various plant oils, but they didn't work. The mosquitoes started biting our testers immediately."

What alternative worked best? An ordinary, oscillating fan. Byrne explained, "It literally blew the bugs away. It reduced the number of mosquito landings, at least for people sitting closest to the fan, by about half." Which means there is another tool in the arsenal in the war against mosquitoes. Consumer Reports says another good way to reduce the number of bites is to rid your yard of water-filled containers, which are often where mosquitoes breed, also clear away ivy and decaying leaves, where they hide. null
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