Mosquitoes are not only annoying and unpleasant. They’re also very dangerous because they transmit many deadly diseases. Because of this, people are constantly trying to find ways to repel and kill them or to at least find out what exactly attracts them.
Unfortunately, these observations are mainly incidental, so many misconceptions arise. That’s why today, we’ll look at some of the most common myths about mosquitoes and why they’re simply myths, not facts.
Myth 1: Citronella candles keep mosquitoes away
There’s a very popular misconception that citronella candles can effectively repel mosquitoes. The scientific evidence shows that these candles only work within a small radius of 1.0 m (3.3 ft.) and only on a small percentage of mosquitoes. This effectivity rapidly decreases as the distance from the candle increases.
Something else to keep in mind is that since candles radiate CO2 and heat, they can even end up having the opposite effect. Sometimes candles attract bugs, so burning a candle to scare away mosquitoes might not be the best idea after all.
Myth 2: LEDs attract mosquitoes
Many people think that any kind of light, including LEDs, attracts mosquitoes. But actually, most LEDs don’t attract mosquitoes or any other bugs. The heat generated by these light sources, not light itself, can attract mosquitoes.
Since most bulbs produce ultraviolet (UV) or infrared rays that create heat, insects will automatically flock to those lamps. Since LEDs don’t give off any of these rays, they won’t attract mosquitoes.
In the end, LEDs are the safest bet if you want to have both light and an insect-free evening. Just remember that different light waves attract different species of mosquitoes, so you can never be sure that they won’t attract some mosquitoes.
Myth 3: Mosquitoes aren’t attracted to certain colors
Another controversial topic when it comes to mosquitoes concerns the colors that attract them. Many entomologists and scientists claim that colors don’t affect mosquitoes in any way.
Science has actually proven that mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colors. As we discussed earlier, heat attracts mosquitoes. They use thermal sensory information to detect our body heat. Dark colors absorb more heat, so mosquitoes will be more attracted to those colors.
Myth 4: Bug zappers are an effective way to avoid mosquitoes
Electrical discharge insect control systems, also known as bug zappers, are widely used to kill mosquitoes. But they aren’t actually as effective as you might think. Bug zappers usually use UV light to attract bugs to an electrical grid that surrounds the light. The grid electrocutes the insects when they touch it.
There’s one serious flaw with this concept, though. The mosquitoes need to actually touch the grid to get zapped. Since most bugs just fly around the grid instead of touching it, bug zappers don’t kill as many mosquitoes as they could. The device only kills about 7% of all the insects gathered around it. On top of that, these mosquito zappers kill more moths, beetles, and other bugs than mosquitoes. So, if you plan on using a mosquito zapper as your main line of defense against mosquitoes, you might want to rethink your strategy.
Myth 5: Insect-repelling plants are the best form of mosquito control for your home
Many people think that they will be able to repel all mosquitoes by placing mosquito-repelling plants around their homes. There are indeed some plants that mosquitoes don’t like. For example, lavender, peppermint, and citronella grass contain essential oils that repel mosquitoes.
But, the truth of the matter is that just putting these plants around your home won’t really help you. For the aroma of these plants to be strong enough to drive away mosquitoes, you’ll need to squeeze or otherwise process these plants.
It’s clear why people are searching for ways to become less attractive to mosquitoes. Nobody wants to have their time outdoors ruined by these little insects. But if you truly want to efficiently repel mosquitoes, you should search for methods that have been scientifically proven. Otherwise, there’s little chance that they’ll work. You’ll have wasted your time and money on something useless in the fight against the mosquito population.