Checkout Lane: Gear up for mosquitoes with repellents
Now that summer has arrived, it's time to gear up for mosquito season.
An unusually dry spring may have translated into fewer mosquitoes than usual in Massachusetts, said Tony Texeira, superintendent of the Plymouth County Mosquito Control Project. But it only takes a handful to ruin a picnic.
When it comes to repellents, there are generally two approaches, said Baron Joseph, owner of Joseph's Do It Best Hardware, which has five South Shore locations: You can spray yourself or spray your yard.
Shopping for personal repellents is relatively easy. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reviews the sprays for efficacy and safety, so first look to see if the product is EPA registered.
According to the EPA, products containing DEET, icaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 all provide a reasonable level of protection so long as they contain 10 percent or more of the active ingredient. If the concentration is lower than 10 percent, the application tends to last only an hour or so.
The higher the concentration, the longer an application should last, except those with active ingredient levels of 50 percent or more, which don't last any longer.
Texeira said you must read the product's package carefully, particularly when it comes to appropriate age levels.
“Don't put anything too strong on children,” he said.
Personal sprays range in price from $5 to $9, Joseph said.
A downside to the personal sprays, Joseph said, is that the chemicals are absorbed into the skin, which is a turnoff for many. Another option, he said, is buying a spray for the yard.
For those die-hard mosquito fighters, Joseph carries the latest in anti-pest technology - a $699 machine called the AllClear Mister. The machine sprays an atomized mist of water and pyrethrins, a natural insecticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers.
While the price is steep, the mister provides six to eight hours of protection for up to 2,000 square feet with only three minutes of spraying, which might make it a rational choice for families who spend most of the summer outdoors.
For those who don't want to break the bank, a normal spray - although not as convenient or safe - costs about $15 per application, Joseph said.
A.J. Bauer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.