People turn to unusual tactics to fend off mosquitoes

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Battles are waged at every backyard barbecue and pool party during the summer months.

No matter how hard people try, it seems like there's nothing they can do to take out all the mosquitoes set on spoiling their fun.

Bug spray is probably the most common defense against the pesky insects, but people are now turning to some more unusual tactics to fight off mosquitoes that others may want to try for themselves.

Karla Hazlewood from Paragould is among those thinking outside-the-box on the war against mosquitoes.

She has tried just about everything to avoid them because she says she's allergic to their bites.

When asked what happens when she actually gets bitten, Hazlewood replied: "I usually get a big whelp about the size of a dime, and then it'll swell to about the size of a softball."

She, however, says a year has passed since she's gotten even one bite. She credits her good fortune to a spoonful of a powder called diatomaceous earth that she adds every morning to a can of Pepsi.

"It seems to work real good with Pepsi because it's kind of sweet," Hazlewood said, "so the Pepsi kind of masks the flavor."

The powder has a similar consistency to baby powder, but it's made from fossil shells and is sold at feed stores for flea and tick prevention. Hazlewood first tried it upon the recommendation of a dog breeder, who said a growing number of people are now using diatomaceous earth to repel mosquitoes.

"If I could just convince other people how well it works – if I could get more people to try it," she said, "I think it would sell really well."

While that may sound extreme to some people, they might consider stopping at their local toy store to find another alternative to bug spray.

Bubble machines have become a popular recommendation online as a mosquito repellent. Not only will the kids enjoy the toy, but the soap solution poured into the machine also apparently deflects the bugs.

Many online users swear that the bubble machine works, but Jordan Phillips of Jonesboro remains skeptical.

"It's unique," he said, "but I've never seen it happen."

People may have also heard about the benefits of filling a plastic bag with water, dropping in a few pennies and then tacking it outside their front door. The age-old trick supposedly repels flies and mosquitoes. Seth Roberts of Jonesboro says it's worked for him and his family for at least three generations.

"My parents did it. My grandma's done it, too," Roberts said. "It always worked, always keeps them out."

If that seems a little farfetched, too, then perhaps people will trust what Dr. Tanja McKay does. McKay, an entomology professor at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, took a much more practical approach to get rid of mosquitoes by simply hooking an industrial fan to the ceiling of her garage.

"The aeration is just really strong so that the mosquitoes have a really hard time flying," McKay said, "so you get to scoot into your house without having them come in after you."

What these people hope now is that others will simply try something new to repel mosquitoes because – as every Arkansan knows – if the heat doesn't make you want to stay inside this summer, the mosquitoes will.

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