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Send those annoying mosquitoes on their way

  • DANIELLE FOX/TIMES NEWS An outdoor fan is a simple, chemical-free way to deter mosquitoes.
    DANIELLE FOX/TIMES NEWS An outdoor fan is a simple, chemical-free way to deter mosquitoes.
Published August 01. 2013 05:03PM

A recent New York Times article on a chemical-free mosquito repellant has been creating quite a buzz.

Published in July in the science section of the paper, "A Low-Tech Mosquito Deterrent," by senior writer William Broad said placing a fan outdoors is a simple solution to dealing with airborne pests.

Broad reported that according to the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA), "Mosquitoes are relatively weak fliers," causing them to be deterred by the fan's mechanical wind.

The northern house mosquito flies roughly 1 to 1.5 mph and weighs about 2.5 milligrams. When paired up against an average, small-scale house fan (with wind speeds of 5 mph or higher), the mosquito's trajectory is blown.

Broad also refers to a study conducted by researchers from Michigan State University which showed electric fan-generated wind reduces the presence of mosquitoes by diluting the amount of attractants in the air.

Broad and the AMCA said fans keep mosquitoes away by inhibiting their flight in addition to diluting attractants. However, the study said that negatively impacting mosquito's flight capability is not successful in lessening the amounts of nearby mosquitoes and proved this by releasing additional carbon dioxide in the air while still running the fan. With the carbon dioxide not as diluted as it was before additional carbon dioxide was released, the number of mosquitoes once again rose.

Mosquitoes are attracted firstly to carbon dioxide but also have been proven to show preference toward people wearing perfume or drinking beer.

Broad's article has been reported in newspapers throughout the country and readers are pleased and surprised with the suddenly popular repellant. Yet, the idea is not a new solution.

Another New York Time's writer, Anahad O' Connor wrote "The Claim: To Repel Mosquitoes Use a House Fan" three years earlier than Broad, citing the same research study that Broad also cites.

Roseann Weinrich, a biology and anatomy and physiology teacher at Tamaqua Area High School and adjunct professor at Lehigh Carbon County Community College said she first heard of using a fan to deter insects through her husband's coworker.

"At first, I thought, 'OK, here we go," said Weinrich. "But it actually works."

Weinrich said she purchased two ceiling fans for her picnic pavilion to keep the bugs away while her family is eating. The fans have been successful and Weinrich called it the "best summer investment ever."

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