How to Prevent Mosquito Bites

The following mosquito bite prevention tips will significantly reduce your chances of insect bites and mosquito-borne diseases.

It is important to know how to prevent mosquito bites, particularly if you are visiting an area where there is a risk of malaria, if you have had a bad reaction to mosquito bites, or if you seem to be a ‘mosquito magnet’.

Prevention Methods

Insect Repellent

Use an insect repellent spray or lotion on areas of exposed skin. Choose a repellent with proven effectiveness, such as the following:

Repellents are the best bet.

Did You Know?

  • DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are proven mosquito repellents.
  • They are not known to be harmful to humans or the environment.
  • DEET and picaridin provide longer-lasting protection than lemon eucalyptus oil and IR3535.
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus may be as effective as DEET, according to some research.
  • Citronella oil may not be as effective as other mosquito repellents.
  • Sweating, swimming and showering remove repellent – reapplication is important.
  • Mosquito repellent helps prevent insect-borne diseases such as malaria and West Nile virus.

If insect repellents are used according to instructions, they are perfectly safe for adults and children.

EPA graphic
The EPA Repellency Awareness graphic

List of Diseases that Bites Can Transmit

Before traveling, check the CDC Travel Notice web page for information on mosquito related risks. For example, dengue in Mexico, yellow fever in Nigeria, etc.

Alternatives to Repellents

Alternatives to topical insect repellents include mosquito repellent wristbands and citronella candles, although these products may not be as effective as mosquito repellent sprays and lotions.

Wrist Bands

Insect repellent wrist bands such as Bug Guards – Mosquito Defence Insect Repelling Bands release the insect repellent DEET as a fine vapour. Other bands use natural repellent, such as Mosiband Insect Repellent Wrist/Ankle Bands, which contain Eucalyptus Maculata Citrodora Extract.

wrist bands for kids

The outwardly released insect repelling vapour forms a protective barrier, or ‘halo’, which repels mosquitoes, midges and other biting insects. The micro-encapsulated insect repellent is dispersed when a wrist band is stretched or flexed by natural body movement.

An insect repellent wrist band can provide up to 100 hours of protection against biting mosquitoes, after which time it should be replaced so as to avoid compromising its effectiveness.

Advantages of Insect Repellent Wrist Bands

Insect repellent wrist bands can be worn around the wrist or ankle, or even attached to a belt. They are adjustable to suit all sizes, for both adults and children, and are available in different colors.

Unlike topical mosquito repellents, no liquid chemicals come into contact with or are absorbed into the skin, so there is minimal danger of skin irritation or damage to fabrics. The insect repellent does not come off with increased humidity, or exposure to water or perspiration. Insect repellent wrist bands can even be worn when swimming.

Permethrin insecticide spray can be used to treat clothing, mosquito nets and camping equipment. Permethrin repels and kills mosquitoes and ticks that come near you, providing effective protection in areas with high mosquito populations.

Cover Your Skin

Cover your skin with long sleeves, trousers and socks, especially at dusk and dawn when many mosquito species are most active. Don’t forget vulnerable areas of your body such as your lower back and the back of your neck, which can sometimes become exposed unintentionally. Mosquitoes can still bite through thin materials, so the thicker and tougher the fabric you are wearing, the better.

Try to wear light colored clothing – mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colors.

Insect repellent clothing from brands such as Craghoppers Nosilife has insect repellent permanently bound to its material. You may wish to consider investing in some insect repellent shirts and trousers, along with a mosquito head net to protect your head and face, if you spend a lot of time in areas where there are high populations of biting insects.

Avoid Fragranced Toiletries

Fragranced toiletries with strong scents such as perfume, body spray, deodorant, body lotion, hairspray, soap, shower gel and make-up are thought to make people more attractive to mosquitoes and other biting insects. Use unscented toiletries to help prevent mosquito bites.

Avoid Standing Water

remove standing water
clear water from outdoor containers

Stay away from areas with standing or stagnant water, such as ponds and swamps, as these are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. At home, make sure standing water is cleared from gutters, paddling pools, birdbaths, wheelbarrows, buckets, flowerpots and other outdoor containers, especially after rainfall. There is no point in encouraging the local mosquito population to thrive on your doorstep.

Basically anything that holds water is a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes, even puddles.

Larviciding to Kill Mosquito Larvae

Larvicides are insecticides (administered by professionals) used in the larval stage of mosquitoes. They are added to mosquito breeding habitats such as marshes, ponds, ditches, lakes and other areas of standing water. Methoprene is one such larvicide, which prevents mosquito pupae from turning into mosquitoes, therefore halting the process of the mosquito lifecycle and preventing new mosquitoes emerging.

It is best to carry out larviciding in the beginning of the mosquito season in order to reduce the numbers of mosquitoes that will hatch out.

Insect Screens and Mosquito Nets

Make sure that door and window insect screens in your accommodation are properly fitted with no holes through which mosquitoes can enter. If you are staying in an area where there is a risk of malaria and your accommodation is not adequately screened, sleep under a mosquito net. Insecticide-treated mosquito nets are more effective than untreated nets. Mosquito nets are also available for travel cots and pushchairs.

mosquito net picture

Mosquito nets are designed to offer adults, babies and young children protection against mosquitoes, midges and other biting insects. They are available for beds, cots, pushchairs, camp beds and gazebos, and are made in a variety of styles.

Did You Know?

  • Mosquito nets have an important role to play in the fight against malaria and other insect-borne diseases.
  • A mosquito net allows you to sleep safely and relax comfortably without the worry of getting potentially dangerous insect bites.
  • Mosquito nets can be permanently fixed in place, or transportable if you are on the move.

Mosquito nets come in different styles, including bell, box and pyramid shapes to fit over single and double beds, along with baby mosquito nets for covering cots, playpens, prams and pushchairs.

Air Conditioning

If your accommodation has air conditioning, use it. This eliminates the need to leave windows open at night, through which mosquitoes and other biting insects can enter. If there is no air conditioning, try placing freestanding electric fans near open windows. The air turbulence caused by the fans will help to keep mosquitoes out – mosquitoes are not keen on air breezes or cool temperatures.

Room Spray

A room spray such as PreVent natural pyrethrum spray can be used to clear areas of mosquitoes and other biting insects before bedtime.

Plug in repellents
Alternatives include plug in mosquito repellents, which simply plug into the mains and release an odourless insecticide vapour, and mosquito coils, which are suitable for use in outdoor areas.

plug in repeller

Plug in mosquito killers, or mosquito plug ins, effectively eliminate biting mosquitoes, midges, gnats and other flying insects from the room by slowly releasing insecticide vapours (active ingredients may include boallethrin or prallethrin). When mosquitoes come into contact with the vapours released by the plug ins, they are killed.

Mosquito plug ins are generally made for use in countries with narrow round two-pin electrical sockets, 110v – 240v, but can be used in the UK and other countries with an appropriate adapter.

How do Plug In Mosquito Killers Work?

Plug in mosquito killers are intended for use indoors and particularly overnight when mosquito bites are more likely to occur, if there is a risk of mosquitoes entering the room.

When plugged into the mains, the heat output from a plug in mosquito killer allows the controlled release of vapour from an insecticide impregnated tablet slotted inside, or an attachable liquid bottle. It will start killing mosquitoes almost immediately after being plugged in.

One mosquito plug in per average sized room (about 30 cubic metres) should be sufficient to keep the room clear of mosquitoes. Plug in mosquito killers are about the same size as a standard electrical plug, so they are small and convenient enough to take away when travelling.

Other Resources:

CDC Fact Sheet
EPA repellents