The dengue situation in Singapore is now serious, with active clusters being found and infections being reported daily (an average of 200 cases each day). It’s even been announced that this year’s dengue outbreak might be the worst one in the country’s history! While we’re all generally aware of what to look out for, there are plenty of myths about mosquito repellents and mosquitoes that you can come across. Here, the team at Thermacell Singapore run through some of them and tell us why they’re not true.
#1 “You can only get bitten by mosquitoes at night”
While mosquitoes are commonly known to bite at night, Aedes mosquitoes are daytime biters. In fact, their peak biting periods are in the morning after sunrise and in the evening before sunset.
And how do you spot one? Aedes mosquitoes have characteristic black and white stripes on their legs and body, giving them the alternative name, the tiger mosquito.
#2 “Mosquitoes prefer certain blood types”
The myth about mosquitoes favouring a certain blood type started with a misinterpretation of a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology back in 2004. Past studies showed that blood type O was the preferred choice among mosquitoes; however, the authors eventually concluded that the results of their new study didn’t strongly support that claim.
Mosquitoes actually rely on three cues to find their target:
- Carbon dioxide that we exhale
- Thermal signals from our body heat (to differentiate between blood hosts and objects that don’t emit body heat such as trees)
- Lactic acid from our skin and breath (they’re attracted to people who emit higher levels of it)
#3 “Applying mosquito repellent once is enough”
Like sunscreen, skin-application mosquito repellents also wear off over time. Here’s how you can apply them correctly:
- Apply as liberally as possible to all exposed areas of the skin.
- Reapply after swimming, sweating and towelling. Some repellents include a recommended number of hours before reapplying on the label, so read instructions carefully.
- Be careful when choosing repellents for young children and babies. Look for products that cater to them, and consider combining non-application methods such as zone repellents, mosquito nets for strollers and long clothing.
- When sunscreen is also required, apply it first, followed by mosquito repellent.
#4 “Natural and organic insect repellents are better”
It’s not true that repellents made with chemicals are not as effective or safe to use. With all products, it’s important to verify the authenticity of product claims before using them.
In Singapore, mosquito repellents must be registered with the National Environment Agency (NEA) under the Control of Vectors and Pesticides Act. You can find out more about approved repellents in Singapore here. You can also refer to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for more options. Approved repellents are in line with safety and efficacy regulations.
#5 “Lemongrass, pandan and neem can repel mosquitoes”
While lemongrass contains citronella oil in its leaves and stems, the oil only works when extracted in its pure form from the plants. The plants themselves do not have mosquito repelling properties.
What’s more, without proper maintenance, overgrown plants can pose mosquito risks as they provide shelter for resting mosquitoes and stagnant water for breeding.
#6 “Burning citronella candles and incense can repel mosquitoes”
Currently, there is no scientific evidence that proves that citronella candles and incense are effective repellents against mosquitoes. Also, mosquitoes detect these scents differently and only through direct or close contact to concentrated quantities.
#7 “Mosquitoes can only breed in large quantities of stagnant water”
Aedes mosquitoes don’t need much water to lay their eggs – they can breed in a puddle of water as small as a 20-cent coin! So ensure that you look out for these in your home. You can also check out NEA’s handy list of potential mosquito breeding spots to help you.
#8 “If a member of my household gets dengue, I’m safe, since it cannot be spread directly from one person to another”
The virus can be transmitted through an (initially uninfected) Aedes mosquito that bit a dengue-infected person. Since mosquitoes are generally weak fliers compared to other insects, they tend to bite within a close proximity. So it actually means that those close to the infected person or dengue cluster could be still at risk.
Protecting yourself from mosquitoes
Thermacell has been producing zone mosquito repellents over the past 20 years. Originating from the US, the brand’s products offer a signature “zone of protection” that keeps mosquitoes up to 4.5 metres (15 feet) away. They are also approved by NEA and the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
You’ll find repellers and lanterns as well as torches that are perfect for backyards and other outdoor spaces. Cordless and portable, the repellers and lanterns are handy to bring out and about. And, unlike lotions and sprays, they don’t need to be reapplied. Each scent-free product works by heating up a repellent mat containing Allethrin (a naturally occurring repellent in chrysanthemum flowers) using a fuel cartridge, dispersing the repellent into the air to create a “zone of protection”.
Snag a deal online!
Quote “EXPAT10” when you checkout on the Thermacell Singapore online store and enjoy 10% off. This one-time offer is valid for regular-priced items until 31 December 2021. Not applicable for use with other promotions, discounts, refills and combo deals. Delivery charges will still apply for orders below $100.
Written in collaboration with Thermacell Singapore:
Read on for more about living in Singapore.