Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to repel mosquitos without chemicals or a net

Over the Fourth of July holiday, my wife and I joined some friends for a barbecue in their backyard. ...

On a low table, they set up a small electric fan, perhaps 12 inches high, that swept back and forth, sending a gentle breeze across the grassy area where people were sitting.

That was it. No citronella candles, no bug zappers, no DEET, nothing expensive or high-tech. Yet amazingly, it worked. As far as I could tell, no mosquitoes flew into the vicinity of the simulated wind; nobody was bitten. ...

Outsmarting bugs with a fan may be a poorly known strategy. But the method, it turns out, is endorsed by the American Mosquito Control Association, a nonprofit group based in Mount Laurel, N.J., that publishes a journal bearing its name.

“Mosquitoes are relatively weak fliers,” it says on its Web site, “so placing a large fan on your deck can provide a low-tech solution.” The group says mosquitoes fly slowly — from roughly 1 to 1.5 miles per hour, depending on the species.

Scientists have identified another factor. The breeze from a fan disperses the human emanations that allow female mosquitoes to zero in on us. ...

As for other popular remedies, the mosquito control association says repellent-infused mosquito coils provide only “some protection” at best, and it dismisses the candles with a shrug, saying their mild repellent action offers no significant advantage over other candles that give off lots of smoke.
--William Broad, NYT, on the power of wind