Alternative repellents put to mosquito test

Oscillating fan works better than other products

[FILE] A generic photograph of mosquitos.
[FILE] A generic photograph of mosquitos.

Lots of products claim to protect you from pesky mosquitoes. But many of them contain chemicals you don't necessarily want to spray on yourself or your kids. Consumer Reports took to the labs to look at alternative ways to keep the bugs from biting.

First, an Off! Citronella Bucket for $8.50. Testers suited up and filed into an enclosed room meant to simulate a mock picnic area, complete with 250 mosquitoes. They counted how often mosquitoes landed on the testers. They repeated the test with a $20 Bug Band Portable Diffuser, which releases a different plant oil. Neither the candle nor the diffuser kept mosquitoes away.

How about wristbands? Consumer Reports tested a Coleman wristband and Evergreen's Super Band. The wristbands contain various plant oils, but neither worked well. The mosquitoes started biting immediately.

What alternative worked best? An ordinary oscillating fan. It literally blew the bugs away. It reduced the number of mosquito landings, at least for people sitting closest to the fan, by about half.

Consumer Reports says another good way to reduce the number of bites is to rid your yard of water-filled containers, which are often where mosquitoes breed, and clear away ivy and decaying leaves, where they hide. 

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