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Mosquitoes: Ready or not, here they come!

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Now that mosquitoes are spreading West Nile virus, repellents are about more than avoiding ruined campouts and itchy bites. Where malaria and mosquito-borne dengue fever are endemic, repelling mosquitoes can save lives.

DEET is hard to beat. It was first patented by the U.S. Army and has been in commercial use since the 1950s.

Worries about its safety have tapered off, possibly because people are more concerned that a bite could make them sick. Many repellents have bright stickers that highlight the DEET content.

When you apply the repellent, it creates a cloud of molecules within a fraction of an inch over the skin. It doesnít actually repel a mosquito, DEET confuses it. The mosquito loses its appetite when those molecules clog receptors on its antennae.

Research reported in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that all DEET products delayed the first bite for much longer than other repellents. A product with a relatively small amount (6.65 percent) lasted an average of 112.4 minutes. OFF! Deep Woods (23.8 percent) lasted 301 minutes; Sawyer Controlled Release (20 percent) lasted 234 minutes. Citronella products lasted 10 to 20 minutes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against using repellents that are more than 10 percent for children. Others say all DEET products are safe for children. Visit for more information

Long Island Safety Articles > Mosquitoes: Ready or not, here they come!

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