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Tags repellent , bags

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Old 19th April 2004, 08:35 AM   #1
Ladewig
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plastic bags of water as mosquito repellent

I ate outdoors at a Mexican restaurant last night and saw a dozen plastic bags filled with water hanging under the eaves of an awning. When I asked about their purpose, I was told that they keep mosquitos away. Has anyone ever heard of this technique?
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Old 19th April 2004, 08:41 AM   #2
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Did you have a problem with mosquitos?
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Old 19th April 2004, 08:43 AM   #3
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Re: plastic bags of water as mosquito repellent

Quote:
Originally posted by Ladewig
I ate outdoors at a Mexican restaurant last night and saw a dozen plastic bags filled with water hanging under the eaves of an awning. When I asked about their purpose, I was told that they keep mosquitos away. Has anyone ever heard of this technique?
I've heard of it, and we even used it once at a friend's outdoor wedding reception - except we were under the impression that its purpose was to keep flies off the food (we hung the bags in the garage near the food table). It seemed effective, though it was hardly a scientific trial.
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Old 19th April 2004, 08:55 AM   #4
athon
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I can't think why, but it would make for an interesting experiment.

Mosquitoes are attracted from a distance by CO2 given out by animals during respiration. They do have preferences for some individuals over others, depending on factors such as body warmth and the presence of various chemicals (e.g., they don't like Vit.B for some reason, hence eating some foods apparently has an effect).

But they do happen to be attracted to water, which they can sense as water vapour. Mosquitoes breed by laying eggs in pools of still water/

That said, this would be a simple experiment to do in any area that has mozzies. You would need two CO2 traps and two locations, one held near this 'water bag', the other not, and left for several weeks. Each morning, the traps could be compared, to see if the water bag has any effect on the number of mozzies attracted to it.

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Old 19th April 2004, 08:57 AM   #5
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Haven't heard of that one. Wonder what the bug lady thinks of it?

There is however, a practise (I think restricted to Australia) where people put plastic bottles filled with water on their lawns. It is supposed to deter dogs from defecating in the area. I have no idea whether this is an urban myth or not.
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Old 19th April 2004, 09:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by athon

That said, this would be a simple experiment to do in any area that has mozzies. You would need two CO2 traps and two locations, one held near this 'water bag', the other not, and left for several weeks. Each morning, the traps could be compared, to see if the water bag has any effect on the number of mozzies attracted to it.

... And then perhaps after that move the water bag and try again, to see if there was some other factor at work?
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Old 19th April 2004, 09:08 AM   #7
athon
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Quote:
Originally posted by richardm


... And then perhaps after that move the water bag and try again, to see if there was some other factor at work?
I was going to say that, but then I remembered I'm not at work, not writing up science experiments, and I got lazy.

Thanks Richard.

Oh, and as far as I know concerning the 'dogs and water bottles' trick, it's based on the premise that dogs won't pee near clean water. But from all experiments to date, it hasn't been validated with any evidence.

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Old 19th April 2004, 11:19 AM   #8
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this sounds very bogus. i'll check with my resident mosquito person, but i will be most suprised if it has any effect.
Also. females are only attracted to water after a blood meal--so it seems to me like water + people would just create a lovely habitat for mosquitoes. Dinner, and a swim.

edited to add:
Mosquitoes *are* flies ()
and to ask
were the bags sealed or open?
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Old 19th April 2004, 04:33 PM   #9
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well, here's an update. This is apparently a common practice in the south, and one that is supposed to repel house flies. There does not seem to be anything but anecdotal data for the house fly repellency.
No one i've contacted so far ever heard of this being used for mosquitoes.

The bags of water are supposed to work by refracting light, and causing the movements of people and environment to appear exaggerated. House flies should react to this by flying away. I'm not convinced, personally.

Mosquitoes are not as visually cued as houseflies, so i don't see how this could possibly work to repel mozzies. [Even if, which isn't clear, the bags do actually work to repel other flies.]

This has inspired me to release a line of "mosquito repellent" neon and lime green striped capri pants with little mirrors and purple pom-pom fringe. The pants will confuse mosquitoes with sensory overload. how much do you think people would pay for those?
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Old 19th April 2004, 04:53 PM   #10
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Apparently the Straight Dope has fielded this one:

http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mwaterbags.html

They say it only works for flies.
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Old 19th April 2004, 05:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by bug_girl
This has inspired me to release a line of "mosquito repellent" neon and lime green striped capri pants with little mirrors and purple pom-pom fringe. The pants will confuse mosquitoes with sensory overload. how much do you think people would pay for those? [/b]
Eat your heart out Vivien Westwood, they might pay more to see you in them.

"mosquito repellent" ........................................

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews...l&siteid=50143
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Old 19th April 2004, 05:29 PM   #12
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Do those things that make a sound repel mosquitos? sounds fishy
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Old 19th April 2004, 05:42 PM   #13
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The sealed bags were hung under a huge awning and had no chance of receiving sunlight or any light whatsoever. I was bothered by a mosquito, but my friends weren't.
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Old 19th April 2004, 06:09 PM   #14
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I occasionally receive lists of "little-knwon facts" from an email corresponent. They are quite often riddled with BS. On one such list, the "houseflies avoid hanging clear bags filled with water" things came up.

When I questioned him about it, he gave me a link to a site on which an entomologist answers questions regarding (surprise) insects. The guy swears by the technique, but has no real evidence as to how it works, and only anecdoctal evidence that it works at all. I'll see if I can dig up the links later.
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Old 19th April 2004, 08:43 PM   #15
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I've never seen this, but I've heard the story before.

I am waiting patiently to get the official and definitive bug_girl scoop on it now.
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Old 21st April 2004, 12:02 AM   #16
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Living in a mosquito infested country, Sweden, I have some experience in encoutering mosquitoes. We usually use chemicals in different forms to repel them, often heavy duty chemicals, but smoking works fine too. I just don’t see how a bag of water could repel the little buggers. First of all, mosquitoes are born in water, they love water, and second, the plastic bag isolates the water from the poor mosquito.

Oh oh, I know, in despair of not being able to reach the water in the bags, the mosquito become so depressed that it fly away to see a shrink, hence no mosquitoes where there are plastic bags with water!
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Old 21st April 2004, 12:26 AM   #17
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While waiting for the official bug_girl position on these things I remembered where I had heard of them. The straigt dope message board.

Link to the article:
http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mwaterbags.html

Quote:
Apparently the water bags do drive houseflies away. Not mosquitoes, not no-see-ums, not spiders...
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Old 21st April 2004, 03:53 AM   #18
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ahem. the official word was delivered 04-19-2004 07:33 Pm. try reading the whole thread

there is also the same link you posted.
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Old 21st April 2004, 04:12 AM   #19
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Uhh, on the visual, lensing movements thing. Flies react much less to visual cues than most people think. If they were that nervous, they could not ever sit still in a forest with leaves moving in the wind, or near a lake with the sunlight glittering on the water, but they do.

Flies have tiny hairs all over their bodies, and one of the purposes of these hairs is to sense movements in the air. A fly only alights if the visual cue coincides with a corresponding movement in the air, indicating that something is actually closing in.

Next time you see a fly sitting on the OPPOSITE side of a window pane, try to chase it away: You will find that it doesn't budge, no matter how much hand-waving you do around it (and yes, flies can see what is below them).

Hans
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Old 21st April 2004, 04:13 AM   #20
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By the way, water bags keep tigers away.

Hans
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Old 21st April 2004, 06:27 AM   #21
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I found some Central American folklore saying that the mosquitos fly up to the bags and see their reflection greatly magnified. Once they see such a large, ugly creature, they fly away.
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Old 21st April 2004, 08:34 AM   #22
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i talked to someone once who had a tattoo of a giant mosquito, on the theory that it would frighten other mozzies away.

I don't think that worked either
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Old 21st April 2004, 09:45 AM   #23
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Just sit next to me, the little bastards think I'm delicious and leave the rest of my family alone.
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Old 21st April 2004, 10:48 AM   #24
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Here in Brazil (specially in small places in central and northern regions) some people also hang transparent plastic bags with water to avoid flys, but as far as I know, not mosquitoes.

Anedoctal story- I've ate at several restaurants in Northern Brzail with plastic bags hanging at windows. Flys were flying around us, so I bet it is useless. Just for the record-> I spoke about that once, and the waiter said without the bags it would be worse. No, I didn't propose an experiment. I'm just a geologist.
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Old 21st April 2004, 10:54 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dragonrock
Just sit next to me, the little bastards think I'm delicious and leave the rest of my family alone.
We got a "lightning rod" in the family also.
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Old 21st April 2004, 11:39 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by phildonnia


We got a "lightning rod" in the family also.
There were 4 of us floating in my parents pool. Each of us was holding a float to our chest and were floating with our heads, shoulders, and upper backs out of the water. After the sun went down completely it began to get cold so we went inside. After an hour or so everyone started counting the bites on my back, as I recall it was around 60, no one else had more than a couple. Have there been any tests to determine if some people really do attract more psychics, er, I mean blood suckers?
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Old 21st April 2004, 11:55 AM   #27
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yes, some people are more attractive to mosquitoes, and it seems to have something to do with lactic acid production.

There are a lot of suggestions that eating various vitamins or garlic or lots of curry will help, but it doesn't seem to hold up well in controlled trials.

This is another one of those things that if i had the answer to, i'd be rich.
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Old 21st April 2004, 12:03 PM   #28
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You would be rich and we would be happy!

Any advice on ticks?

Those things seem to love me...

And tick season is about to start here in Brazil, and since I'm about to start my field trips season...
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Old 21st April 2004, 12:27 PM   #29
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DEET.
you don't want to screw around with ticks.
Use a repellent with Deet. (The little wrist bands that they sell don't work, unfortunately--you need to spray or slather it on.)
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Old 21st April 2004, 12:31 PM   #30
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OOPS! posted this in the wrong thread..... Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite papers, which is probably not on open web view. As you can see, it's a really complex question, DragonRock. I suggest you eat more tacos

Mosquitoes and Mosquito Repellents: A Clinician's Guide
Mark S. Fradin, MD |1 June 1998 | Volume 128 Issue 11 | Pages 931-940 Annals of Internal Medicine

"It has been estimated that 300 to 400 compounds are released from the body as by-products of metabolism and that more than 100 volatile compounds can be detected in human breath [9]. Of these odors, only a fraction have been isolated and fully characterized. Carbon dioxide and lactic acid are the two best-studied mosquito attractants. Carbon dioxide, released mainly from breath but also from skin, serves as a long-range airborne attractant and can be detected by mosquitoes at distances of up to 36 meters [3,13-15]. Lactic acid, in combination with carbon dioxide, is also an attractant. Mosquitoes have chemoreceptors on their antennae that are stimulated by lactic acid. These same receptors may be inhibited by N,N-diethyl-3-methyl-benzamide (DEET)-based insect repellents [16].

At close range, skin temperature and moisture serve as attractants [3,9,17]. Different species of mosquitoes may show strong biting preferences for different parts of the human body (such as the head or feet), which may be related to local skin temperature and eccrine sweat gland output [18,19]. Anhidrotic persons show markedly decreased attractiveness to mosquitoes [6]. Other volatile compounds, derived from sebum, eccrine and apocrine sweat, or the cutaneous microflora bacterial action on these secretions, may also act as chemoattractants [6,20,21]. Whole-host odors are more attractive than carbon dioxide and lactic acid alone [22]. Floral fragrances from perfumes, soaps, lotions, and hair-care products may also attract mosquitoes [23]. "
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Old 21st April 2004, 12:46 PM   #31
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Thanks for the tip. According to the paper, it will also work with mosquitoes!

On a few weeks I'll be able to provide some anedoctal evidence if it works or not against ticks in northern and southern Brazil.
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Old 21st April 2004, 02:31 PM   #32
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Thanks BG!

According to a story I heard in the boy scouts, the workers who built the Panama Canal were fed in excess of 10 garlic cloves with every meal, took sulfer tablets, and only washed themselves with diluted lye to make themselves less attractive to bloodsuckers. There were stories of people passing out from blood loss due to skeeters.
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Old 21st April 2004, 11:05 PM   #33
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bug_girl said:
Quote:
ahem. the official word was delivered 04-19-2004 07:33 Pm. try reading the whole thread

there is also the same link you posted.
Ugh, Sorreee, (dave looks down and shuffles his feet sheepishly)

Anyway thanks for the entertaining and informative posts, bug_girl.
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