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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Protection and Prevention
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General Recommendations


Personal protectionPersonal Protection

Repellents should be used in strict accordance with the manufacturers' instructions and dosage must not be exceeded, especially for pregnant women and young children.

Avoid going at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are more active.  However, don't assume that mosquitoes ONLY bite during dawn and dusk, they bite throughout the day as well.

Wear clothes that are long, (long sleeves and long pants) loose and light in color. (Dark blue, red and purple are more attractive to mosquitoes.) Keep trouser legs tucked into boots or socks, and collars buttoned. Wear boots or shoes (rather than sandals).

Only adults should apply insect repellent on a child. Avoid applying repellent to the hands of children which may be likely to have contact with eyes or mouths.

Keep all insect repellent containers out of the reach of children.

Do not spray repellent in your eyes or mouth - - spray on your hands then apply to face.

Use aerosols in an open space to avoid inhalation. Do not spray repellent products in enclosed areas or around food.

Only apply repellent to exposed skin - - do not use under clothing.
Do not apply repellent over cuts, wounds, sunburn or irritated skin.

Spray permethrin on clothing, as mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing.  Wash clothing before wearing again.

Pay attention to West Nile and Encephalitis Public Information Notices, reports of infected birds and mammals, and medical alerts because this information may indicate a need for even greater personal protection.

Practical preventionPractical Prevention

Keep mosquitoes out of your home by keeping windows, doors and porches screened (16-18 mesh). Be sure to Inspect the screens on your windows and repair any holes.

Eliminate mosquito breeding sites around your home by emptying containers in your yard where rainwater could collect and stagnate -- such as wading pools (or pool covers), discarded tires, wheelbarrows, potted plant trays, birdbaths, ornamental pools, water gardens, boats, buckets toys, etc.

Clean up discarded items that may hold water such as cans, drinking cups, glass bottles, etc. Animal dishes and water troughs should be cleaned every 7 days.

Do not leave garbage can lids upside down or allow water to collect in the bottom of the garbage can.  Drill holes in the bottoms of open recycling containers left outdoors.

Clean roof gutters and downspout screens regularly, and eliminate standing water on flat roofs. Remove weeds and grass from drains to enable them to drain freely.

Check around faucets and air conditioner units and repair leaks or puddles that remain for several days.  Eliminate seepage from cisterns, cesspools, and septic tanks.

Keep grass mowed and ditches cleared to help eliminate mosquito breeding sites. Immediately throw away lawn cuttings, raked leaves and other decaying items such as apples or berries that fall from trees. Place them in sealed garbage bags.

Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days. Turn over compost piles on a regular basis. Fill in tree rot holes and hollow stumps that hold water.

Store boats and cargo trailers covered or upside down, or remove rainwater weekly.

Provide habitat for natural predators such as frogs, dragonflies and spiders. Keep fish ponds stocked with fish.  Bats and birds consume mosquitoes as part of their diet. You can install nesting boxes around your property to attract these natural predators to the area.

Use mosquito netting over the bed if your bedroom is not air conditioned or screened. For additional protection, you can treat the mosquito netting with the insecticide permethrin.  The net mesh size should be less than 1.5 mm. Bed nets, repellents containing DEET, and permethrin can be purchased before traveling and are available hardware, camping, sporting goods, and military surplus stores. 

Source:  USDA/ARS, CDC

Animal protectionAnimal Protection

Insect repellents may be of some value in decreasing exposure of horses to adult mosquitoes; however, repellents alone should not be relied upon to prevent mosquito attack.

Housing animals in screened structures can reduce exposure to adult mosquitoes. Eliminate mosquitoes from inside the structure first through the use of mosquito adulticides and fans.

The mosquitoes responsible for the transmission of WNV to horses and other mammalian species generally feed at dawn, dusk, and during the night. USDA recommends caution when exposing animals to areas inhabited by mosquitoes during these times.

Source: This article appeared in the Animal Welfare Information Center Bulletin, Volume 11, Number 1-2, Summer 2000


Last Modified: 10/5/2005
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