Repellents: Are Catnip, Bug Zappers, and Mosquito Coils Effective?

Mosquito repellents are everywhere. Have you ever thought if catnip, bug zappers, and mosquito coils are really effective? For decades, these repellent products have helped many households and campsites avoid mosquito bites. Having them in stock has helped you but to what extent? Knowing more about them can tell you how they work against these tiny vampires.  

Catnip Plants: Natural Repellents

Catnip is one of the effective natural mosquito repellents
Catnip is one of the effective natural mosquito repellents

The scientific name for this natural mosquito repellent is Nepeta cataria. Catnip belongs to the catnip family. It is a common garden herb that stimulates domestic cats. Such plants are both potent insect repellents and herbal medicine. Its effects are often attributed to iridoids and two nepetalactone isomers. These make up about 80% of the plant’s extracts. Nepetalactone is the active ingredient in catnip that repels insects. Scientists are still trying to find out how catnip can repel many insects.

Bug Zappers

These contraptions are not repellents. Instead, they can zap many bugs at the same time. The problem is that they often kill the wrong bugs. It cannot kill mosquitoes or biting flies. Because they kill the wrong bugs, these zappers can disrupt the process of pollination. This results in environmental imbalance. Also, the zapping event disperses pathogen-infected insect parts.

Bug zappers work by radiating UV (ultraviolet) light. Instead of serving as repellents, zappers attract the insects to its center where they will be electrocuted. Two metal electric grids often do the job. The light is the bait that enables the zapper to kill the bugs. But they often kill moths and other insects that do not bite you at all.

Bug zappers to repel mosquitoes and other biting insects?
Bug zappers to repel mosquitoes and other biting insects?

A University of Delaware study showed that of the 13,789 insects killed in the study, only 31 were flies that bite. The same happened when mosquitoes were added to the study population. Because bug zappers kill useful insects, gaps in the food chain and food web occur. Most of them are nocturnal ones.

Harmful to bees and wasps

It is a blessing that bees are not attracted to any kind of light at all. The bad news is that moths are. These insects are major pollinators of many crops like soybeans and peas. They can carry pollen farther than bees because they do not stay in a colony. This means that moths can prevent inbreeding among local plants.

The parasitic wasp is also a common victim of bug zappers. This insect uses smaller insects as hosts for their eggs. Parasitic wasps often lay their eggs in ticks, flies, or aphids. They help in controlling the pests in gardens and farms. These insects may sound scary but they are not the ones that should die in bug zappers.

Staying away from zappers

Many experts say that mosquitoes will come towards the light, but they will only stay for blood. The problem is that if you are around bug zappers, the mosquitoes will come toward the zappers but they will head straight for you. Staying away from these devices will be safer.

Studies show that bug zappers electrocute bugs that carry bacteria and viruses. Flies are common victims. If you place zappers in your picnic area, chances are the body parts of these insects can spew as far as seven feet. They could easily fall into your food and infect you and your family. This is because the pathogens still survive on the insect parts.

Mosquito Coils

The smell of mosquito coils is common during the summer. Smoke coming from these coils can repel anyone who smells it as well. These coils can contain citronella, pyrethroid or pyrethrum paste. These coils are affordable and are considered effective in reducing the number of mosquitoes and patients with mosquito-borne ailments.

Mosquito coils as repellents
Mosquito coils as repellents

Mosquito coils can either repel or kill. Some studies even show that mosquito coils can disable mosquitoes’ ability to bite. Many people avoid using these repellents because they think the smoke can cause cancer. There is no study that supports this. But people should avoid lengthy exposure to lit mosquito coils.

Choose Your Repellents Well to Remove Mosquitoes and Biting Insects From Your Space

Freedom to do things outdoors without mosquito bites
Freedom to do things outdoors without mosquito bites

Catnip and mosquito coils are effective repellents. Big zappers only attract mosquitoes. But if you stay close to them, the mosquitoes will come after you. The zapping could even spread disease. Repellents are the most effective tools you can get to stop mosquitoes from attacking you. Knowing how to use repellents can help you stay healthy and safe from mosquito-borne diseases.