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If you don't like those stinky bug sprays with DEET, but you also don't like being a mosquito
buffet, here's a simple, low-tech, no-chemical way to deter those little suckers from your backyard: An electric fan.
I couldn't believe it either, but a 2003 Michigan State University study found that a fan blowing air can mess up mosquitoes' flying ability. It also helps blow away the carbon dioxide we humans exude, which apparently attracts mosquitoes like frat boys to free beer.
New York Times writer William Broad provided anecdotal evidence of how well a fan works when he recently wrote that a small electric fan on the table at a Fourth of July backyard barbecue kept him, his wife and their friends from getting a single mosquito bite.
"That was it. No citronella candles, no bug zappers, no DEET, nothing expensive or high-tech. Yet amazingly, it worked," Broad wrote.
The American Mosquito Control Association, a nonprofit science and education group, has similar advice, Broad noted. On the group's website, it explains that "mosquitoes are relatively weak fliers [only 1 to 1.5 mph], so placing a large fan on your deck can provide a low-tech solution."
The Michigan State entomologists tested electric fans with mosquito traps set up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a Michigan wetland. The traps used carbon dioxide to attract the mosquitoes, but the wind from the fans "strongly reduced" the number caught, the scientists wrote.
They recommended that fans -- set on medium or high -- would be a practical way of keeping mosquitoes away from people and pets in the backyard, the Times reported.
If that doesn't appeal to you, there's always the old Italian folktale that if you sleep in a room with a pig, you're less likely to be bitten because the pig's higher body temperature is a more attractive lure for the insects. Or so reports Rodale.com. (To be fair, the site also suggests using fans.)
Photo: Ivan Kmit/Alamy
Also of Interest
- Cheap, Easy Tips for Keeping Mosquitoes Away
- West Nile Virus: If You're Over 50, Your Risk Is Higher
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