What Attracts & Repels Mosquitos & Gnats

Repel mosquitoes naturally or with the help of chemical substances.
Repel mosquitoes naturally or with the help of chemical substances. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Buzzing gnats and biting mosquitoes are often a source of nuisance for many people, especially during the warmer months and rainy seasons. They are attracted to a few of the same things and repel with the use of natural or chemical substances. Proper application and use of repellents will significantly reduce the amount of gnats and mosquitoes whether indoors or outdoors.

What Attracts Mosquitoes

Varieties of things tend to attract mosquitoes. A universally recognized attraction for mosquitoes is carbon dioxide from the breaths of humans and animals. Carbon dioxide draws the insects from 35 meters away. Body odors such as sweat and lactic acid, combined with heat, are enticing agents for the mosquito. Moisture, whether on the body or in standing water, can make a breeding ground or potential for blood. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors on clothes or leaves. They also recognize movement from 30 feet by noticing the changes in light around the moving object.

What Repels Mosquitoes

DEET, developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is effective against not only mosquitoes, but also fleas, ticks and gnats. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that all people over the age of two months can use repellents with 30 percent DEET concentration. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two other types of repellant: picaridin and lemon-eucalyptus oil. Picaridin, developed by the Bayer Corporation, is widely used around the world and is equally as effective as DEET. Picaridin is safe to use on children as young as two months. Lemon-eucalyptus oil is a natural repellent for mosquitoes, as well as geranium, clove and peppermint oil. Fans and citronella candles will reduce the number of mosquito bites slightly, but they are not as effective compared to the other repellents.

What Attracts Gnats

Warm, moist places and carbon dioxide also attract gnats, which use wet places as breeding grounds and a source of food. Over-watered plants, birdbaths, puddles and drainpipes are often sources of breeding for gnats. Rotting fruits and vegetables are an attractive meal for the bugs. You may often see gnats congregating near mulch or shrubbery. Rotting plant debris, mold and fungus also provide homes and food to gnats in outdoor settings. Bright lights attract gnats as well.

What Repels Gnats

A variety of natural and chemical repellents work to control gnat populations or repel them. Prepare a mixture of vinegar and dish soap in a bowl to attract and trap gnats that often congregate around fruit and vegetables. BTi, also known as Gnatrol, is a bacteria that kills gnat larvae. Gnatrol works best if you know the specific location where gnats are breeding. Spray on indoor or outdoor plants to kill larvae. To kill gnats in outdoor gardens, predatory insects and beneficial nematodes provide long-term control of larvae once established in the soil. DEET, citronella, pine oil, vanilla and dryer sheets are additional ways to repel gnats. Place a small amount of liquid in a dish near congregating gnats or hang dryer sheets with clips or string.

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