Ready for a street bite? Aggressive mosquito invades cities

Consumer Reports News: July 20, 2011 02:49 PM

First it was African killer bees and South American fire ants. Now urban dwellers are under attack by the Asian tiger mosquito. Nicknamed the urban mosquito because it prefers cities over rural areas, the invader is “more vicious, harder to kill and, unlike most native mosquitoes, bites during the daytime,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

Apparently, the mosquitoes hitched a ride from Japan to Texas in the late 1980s in a load of used truck tires, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control. Now the aggressive pests have spread to Florida and up the East Coast, roughly following the interstate system.

Getting rid of them is no easy task because the places they breed —tires, toys, cans and other containers—are hard to reach and often in densely populated areas. You can protect yourself by wearing light clothing, covering up—especially your legs and feet—and applying insect repellent following safety guidelines from the CDC.

In Consumer Reports tests of insect repellents we found five that protected against two common types of mosquitoes for eight hours or more. Four of those contain deet in varying levels, which the Environmental Protection Agency judges safe when used as directed. Repellents that worked well included: Off Deep Woods Sportsmen II, Cutter Backwoods Unscented, Off Family Care Smooth & Dry, 3M Ultrathon (all with deet) and Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus. A sixth repellent, Natrapel 8-Hour with the ingredient picaridin, also did well but Burt’s Bees All Natural Herbal was no match for the mosquitoes.

And, of course, we had to take on the Off Clip-on Mosquito Repellent that claims "head to toe protection up to 12 hours." Although the clip-on initially reduced the number of mosquitoes near our testers, we suspended testing two hours after it began because all four subjects had been bitten.

Mary H.J. Farrell

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