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As seen on social media: Testing mosquito repellants

News4Jax gets experts take on keeping mosquitoes at bay

News4Jax and Consumer Reports did some research into four different mosquito repellents to find out which is the most effective one for you.
News4Jax and Consumer Reports did some research into four different mosquito repellents to find out which is the most effective one for you.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Most people would try anything to keep mosquitoes away.

But why see if the products work by sacrificing your own skin? News4Jax took products she found on social media, to the University of Florida’s world-renowned entomology lab and got an expert’s take to help keep you and your family safe.

Dr. Philip Koehler is a retired professor at the University of Florida. He’s studied mosquitoes for almost 50 years and has 28 patents involving the pests. That’s why he’s the perfect expert to decipher which products worked and which would leave you as a mosquito’s next meal.

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Koehler had Lauren rub a rock in her hands to obtain odor, sweat and all other factors that mosquitoes are attracted to. The rocks were placed on top of a mosquito cage to attract the bugs.

Then we tested four products: a citronella candle, a ThermaCell, bug-repellent bracelets and a device that says it can relieve some of the itch and swelling if you’ve already been bitten.

First up, the bracelets. We found a set of 12 for $12.99 on Amazon.

“These are cool. These are basically associated with food like citronella to keep the bugs away,” explained Koheler.

But does it work?

We tied a bracelet around the rock, and almost instantly the mosquitoes avoided any area where the bracelet landed. But that’s the extent the band kept them away.

“If you wanted to keep the mosquitoes from biting your wrist, put it on. But the rest of your body is available,” said Koheler.

Next up, A ThermaCell mosquito repeller we bought for $39.99.

Since this was the priciest item, we expected good results. It didn’t disappoint.

Koehler said these devices are good enough, that if we put it next to the box of mosquitoes since the bugs had nowhere to go, they would all likely die. While Koehler wouldn’t risk his so-called children, Lauren was happy to put this device to the test in her own backyard. She set it up, and let it go. Overall, she’d give it her stamp of approval. However, Koehler warned these devices aren’t going to work as well on a windy day, or in large space.

Next up the citronella candle we bought for a little over $6.

Just like with the Thermacell, Koheler said these candles do not work unless in a controlled area, with no wind. We lit the candle and waited but quickly realizing it did very little to keep the bugs away from the rocks. Overall, Lauren says skip the candle.

Moving on, the Bug Bite Thing promises relief from a mosquito bite by sucking out the venom. Lauren found out it was easier said than done.

“Basically, it probably isn’t going to be too successful because mosquitoes are putting their proboscis and injecting the saliva way down into your skin. It probably won’t help you too much with a mosquito,” said Koehler.

Out of the three repellents I brought him, only one got the thumbs up at keeping the bugs away.

But remember while the Thermacell may offer relief, it is the only device that uses chemicals.


About the Author:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.