Mosquitoes are undoubtedly one of the most universally disliked insects. Even entomologists, who study insects, aren’t fond of them. Unlike butterflies or bees, mosquitoes lack aesthetic appeal and are known for causing harm by spreading diseases. Simply put, everyone hates mosquitoes!
Certain wearable mosquito repellent products, such as RepelWatch, and ParaKito Wristbands, and wearables like JollyPatch stickers, assert that they can effectively keep mosquitoes at bay. But do these mosquito repellent bracelets or stickers actually work?
We’re on the case! This article breaks down the fundamentals of how these products claim to work and guides whether they genuinely prevent mosquitoes from biting you.
Why does everyone hate mosquitoes?
Apart from the annoyance and itching that mosquito bites bring, mosquitoes are responsible for hundreds of millions of cases of mosquito-borne illnesses annually, including malaria, zika virus, West Nile virus, dengue, and yellow fever. This makes mosquitoes one of the most deadly animals on the planet.
And let’s not forget the incredibly irritating high-pitched buzzing sound they make while flying around your head. It’s hard to think of a more annoying sensation!
Challenges in mosquito control
Controlling mosquitoes poses significant challenges because, unlike pests like fleas, ants, or bed bugs, mosquitoes aren’t exactly considered “pests” that reside within your home. While you can take measures to prevent mosquito bites, efficiently eliminating them in nature is a complex task. Killing them in advance is even more challenging due to their rapid breeding in minimal stagnant water.
This difficulty is particularly pronounced in developing nations, where the removal of all standing water is a daunting task. In countries with insufficient means of disposing of household trash, which can collect water when dumped outside, mosquitoes become a persistent challenge.
What are mosquito bracelets and stickers?
Mosquito bracelets and stickers are wearable products designed to contain materials believed to effectively repel mosquitoes. Instead of applying traditional mosquito repellents like deet directly on your skin, these products offer the convenience of wearing a small item that supposedly keeps mosquitoes at bay.
These repellents come in various forms, with the most common being bracelets or wristbands and peel-off stickers. They are designed to be worn on the wrist, and some companies even produce roll-on versions for direct application on the skin. The duration of effectiveness varies between companies, with some claiming protection for two weeks, while others suggest just a few days.
Do mosquito-repellent bracelets or stickers actually work? A complicated matter
Answering the question of whether mosquito bracelets actually work is, like many things in life, complicated. The concise response is— not as effective as you might wish, and in some cases, not at all.
The efficacy of these products hinges on your expectations and how you utilize them. To delve into the reasons why, let’s explore in detail what repels mosquitoes.
What attracts and repels mosquitoes?
Female mosquitoes, the ones responsible for biting, are primarily attracted to carbon dioxide—the gas we exhale. This makes them effective trackers of humans, as we continuously breathe. As the mosquito approaches, it can also be drawn to high body heat and other subtle chemical factors.
By the way, you need to know what is the most effective way to repel mosquitoes.
- Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
How to repel mosquitoes is very easy—these repellents mask the smell of carbon dioxide. However, mosquitoes have highly sensitive olfactory senses (necessary to detect odorless carbon dioxide in humans). Commercial insect repellents commonly contain diethyltolamide (deet). While DEET can be strong and contribute to the repellent’s unpleasant smell, it is also the reason why these products are effective.
Mosquito repellent sprays usually contain deet in low concentrations, safe for humans. There are also stronger deet sprays with higher concentrations, offering longer-lasting protection rather than increased effectiveness.
Ingredients in mosquito bracelets and stickers
Many wearable mosquito-repellent products avoid using deet, as highly concentrated deet directly on the skin for extended periods is generally not considered safe.
Instead, these products opt for natural alternatives to DEET, such as oil of lemon eucalyptus (ole) or citronella. Some may even experiment with technological methods like ultrasonic frequencies to repel mosquitoes.
However, it’s essential to note that these natural alternatives may not always be as effective. The only natural alternative to DEET endorsed by the CDC for use in disease-endemic areas is ole.
The CDC and the EPA have stringent guidelines for selecting effective mosquito repellents, with the majority of EPA-approved repellents containing DEET. This can pose a challenge for wearable products that lack this ingredient.
Let’s explore some of the most popular mosquito bracelets and other wearable devices to understand the ingredients they use to mask scents and evaluate their effectiveness.
How long do these popular mosquito-repellent bracelets last?
Active ingredients: None. Relies on ultrasonic frequencies.
Effectiveness: While ultrasonic frequencies are a recent trend, their efficacy has been doubted for decades. Mosquitoes are attracted to smell, not sound, making it unlikely that repel watch provides significant protection against mosquitoes.
Active ingredients: Unspecified essential oils.
Effectiveness: Difficult to evaluate due to undisclosed oil combinations. Essential oils, even if effective, evaporate quickly, offering short-term relief. The wristband’s diffuser may slow down evaporation, but long-term usage and the 15-day claim are questionable.
Active ingredients: Citronella and lavender oil.
Effectiveness: Citronella can repel insects, but its efficacy may be limited in this patched format. Initial strength may differ from later use, and the 72-hour claim aligns with short-term effectiveness. Lack of concentration information and limited studies suggest caution with jolly patch stickers.
The verdict on mosquito bracelets and stickers
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Wearable mosquito control, especially non-deet options, lacks evidence of effectiveness. Products with natural repellents like essential oils are worth considering only if they contain oil of lemon eucalyptus, the most effective natural alternative to DEET. However, these are suitable for lighter, short-term use, not for extended periods in the deep woods or disease-endemic areas where deet-based repellents remain the best option.
Recommend our Bug Repellent Bracelet, made with great ingredients like lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, mugwort, and more. It keeps mosquitoes away without any harm, safe for pregnant women and infants. The Solid Essential Oil Locking Technology gradually releases oils for ongoing bite prevention. 30 days lasting. Perfect for short outings or hikes, ensuring a safe adventure.
For ultimate protection, combine repellents with preventive measures like staying indoors during peak mosquito activity, wearing protective clothing, and using mosquito netting when necessary.
If you found this article useful, you might also be interested in – Bed Bug Bites Vs. Mosquito Bites: What’s The Difference?