Last week, we introduced the first six of 12 mosquito myths in Singapore we should be aware of in this blog. Nothing beats the phrase “Knowledge is power”. This week, here are the other six myths about mosquitoes debunked for you.

Myth 7:

“One single application of insect repellent is all you need”

Insect repellents are indeed god-sent. However, like sunscreen lotion, skin-application insect repellent has limited duration and wears off overtime. It wears off even faster with sweat, water exposure, air temperature and physical contact. Follow label and reapply as frequently as suggested. Depending on formulation, some insect repellent products need more frequent reapplication than others.

Myth 8:

“Natural, organic insect repellent is the only way to go”

While this personal care section appeals to supporters of natural, organic products, it is very important to study the authenticity of the product claims before use. To start, there is no official natural or organic certification body in Singapore to scrutinise these products, unless it is imported from countries where it holds official certification. More importantly, only these ingredients are approved and registered by EPA for insect repellents – DEET, picaridin (also known as icaridin and KBR3023), IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)/para-methane-diol (PMD), and 2-undecanone.

Myth 9:

“Planting lemongrass, pandan and neem will keep my house mosquito-free”

Home owners with green fingers will love this, but these plants will serve as decorative plants only. While lemongrass contains citronella oil in leaves and stems, the oil only works when extracted from the plants. To add, without proper maintenance, overgrown potted plants turn into liabilities instead by providing shelter to resting mosquitoes, and breeding water for the larvae.

Myth 10:

“OK, how about citronella candles and pandan leaves in my room then?”

While the idea is for area repellency, there is no scientific evidence as of date that proves citronella candles and pandan leaves as effective area repellent against mosquitoes. Humans may detect the volatile compounds through nose, but the mosquitoes only detect them through direct or close contact to concentrated quantity (more common in skin-application repellents and technical area repellents).

Myth 11:

“There is no way my house can become a mosquito breeding site”

A common example of optimism bias, where we disregard the reality because we think we are excluded from the potential dangers. Did you know that an Aedes mosquito can breed in a puddle of water as small as a20-cent coin? And that it can be anywhere in a home? National Environment Agency (NEA) has compiled a list of potential mosquito breeding habitats in a home that we can use to inspect for ourselves before NEA inspects them first.

Myth 12:

“There is no way my family or I can become the next dengue patient”

The most dangerous myth of all (optimism bias in play here). While dengue virus cannot be transmitted directly from one person to another, a patient can infect an uninfectedAedes mosquito that bites him/her. The mosquito then bites another person, hence transmitting the virus. Since mosquitoes are weaker fliers compared to other insects, they tend to bite within close distance, affecting human population within the area.You can protect yourself and your family by using skin-application repellents or area repellents like Thermacell.

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