Preventing Mosquito Bites
Know where to expect mosquitoes
Different types of mosquitoes prefer different environments, but all mosquito species require water to lay their eggs and to raise their larvae and pupae. Different types of water attract different types of mosquitoes:
- Permanent water mosquitoes tend to lay their eggs in permanent-to-semi-permanent bodies of water.
- Some prefer clean water, while others like nutrient-rich water.
- Some lay eggs near the edges of lakes and ponds, among plants in swamps and marshes, or in containers that hold water.
- Floodwater mosquitoes lay their eggs in moist soil or in containers above the water line. The eggs dry out, and then they hatch when rain floods the soil or container. Floodwater habitats include:
- Temporary pools and ponds created by melting snow or rain,
- Floodplains along stream and river banks,
- Irrigated fields and meadows,
- Containers that fold water and fill up after a rain shower, and
- Tree holes that collect rainwater.
For more information about the water preferences of mosquitoes, see the CDC's Where Mosquitoes Live web page.
Use insect repellent
Use EPA-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients listed below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective.
- Picardin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the U.S.)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
Find the right insect repellent for you by using EPA's search tool. Always follow the product label instructions for application and reapplication, and be sure to take special precautions when applying insect repellents on babies and/or children. Do not use any insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old, and do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
Mosquitoes can bite through clothing, especially if the material is thin. If possible, use 0.5% permethrin to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents), or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear ahead of time. If you are treating clothes or gear with permethrin yourself, be sure to follow label instructions. As an insecticide that kills or repels mosquitoes, permethrin provides clothes with extra protection even after multiple washings.
For children, try to dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, and cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting before going outdoors in high-density areas.
When Traveling Overseas
Do your research
Learn about current mosquito-borne disease risks in the region you are traveling to, and get up-to-date on local guidance for preventing mosquito bites as well as vaccination requirements. If you are traveling to an area where malaria is found, talk to your healthcare provider about malaria prevention medication.
Make sure to pack the following items:
- EPA-registered insect repellent
- Long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Clothing and gear treated with 0.5% permethrin
- Mosquito net, if you will be sleeping outside or when screened rooms are not available
Protect your sleeping environment
If possible, choose a hotel or lodging with air conditioning or window and door screens. If you are unable to stay in a place with air conditioning or window and door screens or if you are sleeping outside, use a mosquito net. Mosquito nets can be purchased at your local outdoor store or online before traveling overseas; choose one that is compact, white, and rectangular, with 156 holes per square inch and long enough to tuck under the mattress. Mosquito nets can be hung above a bed or crib to protect against mosquito bites, but make sure to pull the net tightly under the mattress and hook or tie the sides of the net to other objects if they are sagging in toward the sleeping area.
Inside Your Home
Keep mosquitoes out
To keep mosquitoes out of your home, you can use window and door screens. Be sure to close doors, including garage doors, whenever they are not in use; do not leave doors propped open. Use air conditioning when possible.
Regularly clean for eggs and larvae
Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid places like under sinks, in showers, in closets, under furniture, or in the laundry room. Mosquitoes entering your house from the outdoors can start laying eggs indoors, so it is important to clean these areas of your home thoroughly and regularly. Once a week, empty and clean or throw out any items that hold water, such as vases or flowerpot saucers, to remove mosquito eggs and larvae.
Consider indoor pesticides
If you still have mosquitoes in your home after installing or repairing screens and emptying and scrubbing containers, consider using an indoor pesticide. An indoor insect sprayer or fogger will kill mosquitoes and treat areas where they rest. These products work quickly, but they may need to be reapplied; be sure to follow label directions. If you prefer to hire a pest control professional to treat areas inside your home, follow the tips offered by The National Pest Management Association.
WARNING: You and your pets must leave the house when foggers or aerosols are used. Cover any and all fish tanks. You can return home after the spray has dried.
Outside Your Home
Remove standing water where mosquitoes lay eggs
Once a week, empty and clean or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers. This step is critical, because mosquitoes lay eggs in or around sources of still water. Tightly cover storage containers such as buckets, cisterns, or rain barrels so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs. For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito. Fill tree holes to prevent them from filling with water, and if you have a septic tank, be sure to repair cracks or gaps.
Use products to kill mosquito larvae
You may use larvicides to treat large bodies of water that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or dumped out. When using larvicides, always follow label instructions.
Use products to kill adult mosquitoes
Use an outdoor adulticide to kill adult mosquitoes in areas where they rest. Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid areas like under patio furniture, the carport, or the garage. When using insecticides, always follow label instructions. Alternatively, contact a mosquito control professional to have these products applied to your yard.
Content derived from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at https://www.cdc.gov/mosquitoes/index.html.