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5 Spot: 5 ways to repel mosquitoes

Ben Prather, director of Cass County Vector Control, says there are measures you can take to keep mosquitoes at bay besides coating your skin with smelly bug spray. Special to The Forum

Editor’s note: “5 spot” is a weekly feature that focuses on quick tips, ideas, activities and more – all in bunches of five.

FARGO – If you’ve spent any amount of time outside this summer, chances are you’ve gotten a mosquito bite, or, if you’re especially tasty, a dozen.

Summertime activities like sipping shandy on your deck, tending to your tomato plants or toasting marshmallows over your fire pit are a lot less pleasant with the nasty little buggers buzzing around.

Fortunately, Ben Prather, director of Cass County Vector Control, says there are measures you can take to keep mosquitoes at bay besides coating your skin with smelly bug spray.

Here are five:

1. Get rid of any standing water. Keep your grass short, clean out gutters, empty buckets, and drain any other water from your yard.

“A bucket of water can produce thousands of mosquitoes per week, tens of thousands, even,” Prather says.

2. Trim trees and shrubs at least a foot above the ground. Allowing for increased air flow under these plants reduces humidity, bringing the dew point down and making the space less favorable for mosquito populations.

Prather says mosquitoes also like weed, stick and wood piles, so keep those in warmer, dryer areas or get rid of them altogether.

3. Fog the air with an insecticide. Yes, the county sprays for mosquitoes, but they’re only able to do so a couple nights a week, and Prather says because of legal constraints, they can’t always spray directly over residents’ backyards.

Try it yourself with a spray like Raid Yard Guard Mosquito Fogger. Focus on anywhere with lots of shadows, shade and moisture – what Prather calls “mosquito bliss.” Get foliage, along grass, and around porches, patios, decks, sheds and garages.

4. Spray your clothes, gear and tents. Prather uses a spray like Sawyer Permethrin Premium Insect Repellent when he’s out doing mosquito-control work. The clear, odorless spray is safe to use on all fabrics.

Permethrin, the same stuff Cass County Vector Control uses with their trucks, is a synthetic chemical derived from pyrethrin, a natural, organic compound found in chrysthanemums.

5. Clip a ThermaCELL onto your belt. The little devices use allethrin, a chemical similar to permethrin, to repel mosquitoes; a single butane cartridge heats a metal grill saturated with allethrin, releasing it into the air.

The company that makes the ThermaCELL claims it creates a 15-by-15-foot area of repellency.

“You’re essentially making a little micro-fog around you,” Prather says.

For more information and ideas for both metro-area and rural residents, visit

Meredith Holt

Meredith Holt is a features/business reporter for The Forum who covers topics in health, mental health, social issues, women's issues, arts and entertainment, food and more. She also writes a column on health and wellness, body image and media representationShe was a copy editor/page designer for six years prior to joining the features team in March 2012.

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