Buyers beware: Salt-based mosquito-control products are ineffective

A new study has shown that products claiming to reduce mosquito populations with salt-water solutions are ineffective.

Researchers found no evidence that adult mosquitoes are killed by eating salt at levels used in several mosquito-control products (none stocked by MozzieGo we hasten to add!).

Salt-based mosquito-control products have been the subject of investigation by researchers in recent years for their bold claims of killing mosquitoes via salt ingestion. The products often contain some combination of dried salt, sugar, and yeast, which is mixed with warm water by customers and then placed outdoors to attract mosquitoes that then drink the fluid.

The study among nine researchers at several universities and public mosquito-control agencies both in the United States and Australia used nine mosquito species in their experiment, all from the genera Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex, which collectively are responsible for the vast majority of mosquito-borne disease (such as malaria, dengue, Barmah Forest virus and Ross River virus).

"There is a real public-health threat from mosquito-borne disease, and having unsubstantiated claims out there may have real consequences for the health of people in areas plagued by mosquitoes," says Donald Yee, professor at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Across the trials, virtually no negative effects of salt ingestion on mosquitoes were observed.

The researchers say they want to provide consumers with the knowledge they need to spend their money wisely and protect their health. Using mosquito-control products with unsubstantiated claims could lead to a false sense of security. Instead, they recommend practices and products that have been repeatedly proven to reduce risk of exposure to mosquito-borne disease:

  • dumping standing water in yards (e.g., in bird baths, flower pots, tires, toys) to eliminate locations for mosquitoes to lay their eggs
  • treating standing water with insecticides that kill mosquito larvae
  • wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors 
  • avoiding going outside when mosquitoes are most active (dusk and dawn)
  • and using repellent sprays with DEET or other approved chemicals

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