Nothing kills the mood at a backyard barbecue quite like a swarm of hungry mosquitos. And the fact that mosquitoes are so annoying is a big opportunity for companies to sell you things that promise to keep them away.
The problem is, there really isn’t anything on the market that will give you complete relief. From a 30 cent mosquito coil to a $900 mosquito trap, the bugs can still find you, and when they do — unless you have a repellant on your skin — they will bite you.
There’s one widely overlooked solution, though, that no mosquito control company will tell you about, because all it requires is a source of electricity and a piece of equipment you probably already have in your house: a fan.
“Mosquitos are notoriously very poor fliers, so any sort of wind will impact them,” Jonathan Day, a mosquito researcher at the University of Florida, tells Inverse. “Fans around the picnic table will work pretty well — anything that creates a breeze. It will keep that area pretty much mosquito-free.”
If you’re worried about bites, you should definitely also apply a topical mosquito repellent. The Center for Disease Control officially approves of three active ingredients — DEET, picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus. These work by confusing mosquitos on contact, which deter them from actually biting you if the chemicals are present on your skin. So unless you’re one of the lucky ones who naturally repels mosquitoes, it’s a good idea to apply some repellent around your ankles, where the breeze might not be as strong and a pesky bug might manage to land.
Although insect repellants might be the best protection against bites, they don’t actually keep bugs out of the area, which helps you very little in terms of hosting an epic party. Mosquitos don’t actually have to bite you to be incredibly irritating.
Which means the best way to actually shoo away mosquitos and save money on gadgets like citronella candles and torches is to just install a fan — a few fans? — to blow over the area. Repellants as party favors, perhaps?