With West Nile virus still a threat, health officials in North Texas urge area residents to continue taking precautions to eliminate mosquitoes and to prevent being bitten.
Many repellents are available to help in the extended battle against mosquitoes, but over the last six weeks, companies â" including foreign businesses â" have inundated The Dallas Morning News with their new or lesser-known products that kill or repel mosquitoes.
We have tested most of the products described here ourselves, when time permitted. Before using any product, however, read and follow all the instructions and precautions.
Clothes made of Insect Shield materials are impregnated with permethrin, the only EPA-approved pesticide for use in clothing and other products that come in direct contact with human skin.
Permethrin is used in lice shampoos for children and flea and tick products for dogs, but it is extremely toxic to cats.
The company says apparel made from its material effectively repels mosquitoes, ticks, flies and fleas through 70 launderings. Products are available from insectshield.com and retailers including REI and Orvis. Insectshield.com lists more retailers and online vendors, but call a local retailer to confirm availability.
The Mosquito Sentry standard model is an impressive 18-inch tower that constantly emits a steamlike repellent vapor when operating. The manufacturer says the standard model, which must be plugged in to an electric outlet, can protect 2,000 square feet of outdoor space from mosquitoes, depending on the wind and other conditions. A smaller unit powered by a rechargeable battery doubles as a lantern and can cover 300 square feet, the company says. Both models have controls for setting protection levels and operation times.
The repellent used in both units contains geraniol, an essential oil derived from plants; cedar oil; and sodium lauryl sulfate, a detergent common in shampoos, including flea shampoo for dogs and cats.
When I tried the Mosquito Sentry in my backyard, a light breeze was blowing, so I followed the instructions, which say, âIn breezy-windy conditions, the Mosquito Sentry should be placed in a manner that allows the wind to blow the repellent toward you.â I did that, and put the device within about 15 feet of where I was sitting. I incurred half a dozen mosquito bites in about 30 minutes.
The products are available from homedepot.com, acehardwareoutlet.com and the manufacturerâs website, mosquitosentry.com, which also lists more retailers. The standard model is $249 to $299, depending on the vendor; the portable unit ranges from about $79 to $99. The repellent is about $20 per gallon.
Mosquito Drapes are an alternative to permanent framed screens on patios, porches and sunrooms to provide insect protection and light control. The drapes are made of seamless mosquito mesh in white, ivory and black and in several darkening options. They are custom-made by Bug Free Patios of Dallas for about $40 per foot, installed. Go to outdoorcurtain.com or call 972-679-8359.
The first time I tested the battery-powered All Clear Mosquito Mister Lantern, I didnât get results described by the manufacturer, who says it âsafely repels more than 95 percent of biting mosquitoes from areas up to 300 square feetâ outdoors. The public relations rep who pitched the Mister Lantern said thatâs because it wasnât properly positioned to spray the repellent âso the mist passes by you.â
The lantern sprays All Clear Naturals repellent at intervals, depending on its setting. The repellentâs primary ingredient is the lemongrass extract geraniol.
I again tested the mister in my backyard, this time pointing the mist nozzle in my direction. With the breeze, I had to adjust it a couple of times to get the mist to blow downwind, toward me. That worked for a while, but the breeze kept changing direction. I was getting bitten. Perhaps the product is effective as long as the atmosphere is still, but I cannot verify that.
The manufacturer says the lantern is available at Ace and True Value hardware stores, but call to check availability before driving to the store. Itâs also online at homedepot.com, target.com, amazon.com and frontgate.com, as well as at allclearmister.com. Suggested retail is $79.99, with Naturals refills $7.99.
OnGuard repellent is produced in Johannesburg, South Africa, where its active ingredients are harvested: Chrysanthemum cineriaefolium, a natural pyrethrum insecticide, and oil from the seeds of the neem tree. Neem oil has been used for centuries as an insecticide and is also an ingredient in cosmetics.
The company says OnGuard is regulated and registered as a repellent by agencies in South Africa and France, and registration is under way in Australia. A representative of the company sent a sample of the gel, which worked well for me during the hour I tested it. The company says OnGuard is effective for up to eight hours.
OnGuard is not available from U.S. retailers, but it can be ordered from insectrepellentshop.com. Packages with combinations of gel, roll-on and spray are $30 to $32, which includes shipping to the United States.
Outer Banks Skeeter Beater, another DEET-free repellent, is âmade in the swamps of North Carolinaâ with geraniol, lemongrass oil and rosemary oil. I guess I didnât get any of the floral-scented repellent on my elbows, because thatâs the only place I got bit. But thatâs not bad for me, considering Skeeter Beater doesnât contain DEET; some of the DEET-free products seem to attract the pests. The 1-ounce bottle of Skeeter Beater costs $3.99, the 4-ounce is $7.99, plus shipping and tax where applicable. Order from obxskeeterbeater.com.
Taking a cue from The Little Shop of Horrors, the InaTrap attracts, snares and kills mosquitoes. An LED light and a photo-catalyst reaction produce low levels of carbon dioxide in a warm atmosphere, mimicking the presence of a human being to attract mosquitoes. Once lured close enough, the plug-in deviceâs fan sucks the pests into its clutches where they die. Dead mosquitoes are collected in an easy-to-empty bin.
The device is designed to âresemble an avant-garde porcelain sculpture,â according to the manufacturer. The company says a model that runs on a rechargeable battery will be available soon in the U.S. InaTrap is $84.95 at amazon.com.
READ ABOUT a Dallas inventorâs nontoxic mix for misters on Page 8E.
Tim Tune is a Fort Worth freelance writer.