How do mosquito repellents work?

How do mosquito repellents work?

Summer has already arrived in the northern hemisphere and, with it, the annoying mosquito bites. For this reason, many people choose to place these typical mosquito repellents that are plugged into the electrical outlet. It’s funny how something so small can kill these insects so easily, but how does it do it?

To answer this question we must bear in mind that not all anti-mosquito devices are the same. If we focus on those used indoors, we find those based on ultrasound and those that contain insecticide refillseither in liquid or tablet form. It should be noted that only the latter are really useful.

Studies in this regard carried out in the last 20 years indicate that ultrasounds are not effective in fighting mosquitoes. These can’t hear them and even if they did could fit them. Even her own Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) issued a statement in 2019 warning that these anti-mosquito devices are useless. On the other hand, those that contain tablets or liquids do have proven effects. Let’s see what they consist of.

Anti-mosquito devices with insecticide, the best option

The operation of this type of anti-mosquito devices is very simple. While they are connected, little by little they release an insecticide into the environment which can be of various types.

Generally, they must contain a pyrethroid. These are a kind of artificial insecticides that were first obtained trying to synthesize pyrethrins, another type of insecticide generated naturally in plants such as chrysanthemums. They turned out to be very effective for several reasons. But mainly because low doses are needed for them to act on mosquitoes, do not accumulate easily in the middle (although they remain longer than pyrethrins) and are safe at doses used for humans and other mammals. However, that is what was initially thought. Over time, it has been observed that yes they can affect some mammals, such as rodents, hence it is important to follow the safety measures of the product. These indicate the proper use so that it is safe for us and our pets.

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Pyrethroids are synthetic insecticides that were obtained by trying to manufacture pyrethrins such as those generated in chrysanthemums.

Regarding its effect on mosquitoes, is practically the same as in the case of pyrethrins. both insecticides affect the nervous system of these insects, affecting the nerve impulses that transmit information between neurons. This prevents their proper functioning and ends up causing their death.

But not all mosquito repellents have the same pyrethroids. One of the most common is the pralethrin, also used against other insects, such as wasps. Often this substance is accompanied by another, known as piperonyl butoxidewhich does not have an insecticidal effect by itself, but enhances that of other substances.

On the other hand, it is currently very common to use a pyrethroid called transfluthrin. This is effective against mosquitoes, cockroaches and diptera, such as flies. It has a low persistence, which makes it safer than pralethrin. However, it is still necessary to use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

In short, the operation of anti-mosquito devices is simple. A good insecticide that is released little by little into the environment, nothing else is needed. The topic of ultrasound seemed quite promising at first, but over time it has been seen that they are useless. Therefore, for now, we will have to continue with the classics. Without forgetting physical options such as mosquito nets, of course.