Your best protection against mosquitoes and the diseases they carry is to avoid mosquito bites. Know how to prevent bites – Spray up, Cover up, Clean up, Screen up!

  • Mosquitoes can bite through tight clothing. Cover up while outside (wear loose, long-sleeved, light-coloured clothing and covered footwear and socks), particularly at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Apply mosquito repellent evenly to all areas of exposed skin. The most effective repellents contain picaridin, DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Read the instructions to find out how often you should reapply repellent. Always apply sunscreen first and then apply repellent. 
  • Mosquito wristbands and patches are not recommended as there is no evidence that these provide good protection against mosquito bites.
  • Natural or homemade repellents provide limited protection against mosquitoes.
  • Where possible, limit outdoor activity if lots of mosquitoes are about, particularly around areas like swamps and wetlands.

​Frequently asked questions

  • ​Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide humans and animals breathe out, and our body heat also helps mosquitoes locate where we are. The reason why some people seem to be bitten more than others isn’t clear, but there is some evidence to suggest the smell of people’s skin can affect their chances of being bitten.

  • ​Mosquitoes become most active at dawn and dusk, and into the evening. Take care during these times to reduce the risk of being bitten.

  • Mosquitoes are more attracted to people in dark clothing as it's easier for them to spot dark and black clothing compared to lighter-coloured clothing.

    Even though lighter coloured clothing won’t attract as many mosquitoes, you can still be bitten if you’re not wearing repellent.

  • Wearable mosquito repellent devices (including patches or wrist bands), or ultra-sonic devices and mobile phone apps don not provide effective protection from mosquitoes.

    The most effective thing you can do is apply a topical insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus and wear long, loose-fitted clothing.

  • ​There is no scientific evidence to support certain types of food and drinks that stop mosquitoes from biting. It’s better to reduce mosquitoes in your backyard and use personal protection like repellent and protective clothing.

  • Topical insect repellent that contains diethyltoluamide (DEET), picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus are the most effective repellents against mosquitoes. These ingredients are listed on the label of repellent formulations. The strength of a repellent determines the duration of protection, with the higher concentrations providing longer periods of protection. Always check the label for reapplication times.

    Mosquito wristbands and patches are not recommended as there is no evidence that they provide good protection against mosquito bites.

  • Make sure to apply a thin layer evenly to all exposed areas of skin and rub into your skin. Don’t ‘mist’ yourself in spots as this will not ensure full coverage.

    Avoid putting repellent near the eyes and mouth, or over open wounds, broken skin or abrasions. Always follow the product label instructions.

    If you're using sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first and then apply the repellent. Never allow young children to apply their own repellent.

  • The strength of a repellent determines the length of protection, with higher concentrations providing longer periods of protection. Reapply the repellent according to product instructions or when you notice mosquitoes biting.

    The effectiveness of the repellent is reduced with sweating, so during strenuous activity or hot weather it may need to be reapplied more frequently. Mosquito repellent also needs to be reapplied after swimming.

  • Repellents work by confusing a mozzie’s senses such as smell and taste to prevent them finding and biting your skin.

    Unlike fly sprays, spraying repellents will strop mozzies from biting you, but it won’t kill them. Repellents also only protect the areas they cover - mozzies will find any little patch of unprotected skin, so you need to make sure it’s applied evenly.

  • Insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are proven to safe and effective. They are registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) which checks that products are safe and effective. There is no evidence that mosquito bands or patches work against mozzies, and natural repellents only provide limited protection.

    Make sure you use approved products and read the instructions on the label.

  • ​Most repellents are safe for use on children aged 3 months and older when used according to directions, although some formulations are only recommended for children aged 12 months and older – always check the product label for recommended age use. The most effective repellents contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

    Apply repellent to kids each morning to protect them during the day. Don't allow children to apply it themselves and always read the label instructions.​​

  • Natural repellents such as citronella, eucalyptus, tea tree oil and other ‘natural’ formulations generally provide very limited protection from mosquito bites.

    All insect repellents sold in Australia must be registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), which checks that products are safe and effective. Using products not registered with the APVMA may carry a greater risk of adverse skin reactions.

  • ​The best way to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home is to:

    • clean up your backyard and remove all water-holding containers, including buckets, tyres, toys etc, and store them in a dry place
    • mow your lawn regularly
    • empty and wipe out bird baths, pet water bowls and water features
    • fill pot plant bases with sand to avoid standing water
    • store anything that can hold water undercover or in a dry place, and keep bins covered
    • remove leaves in water-holding plants
    • clear drains and roof gutters so water runs freely
    • cover or securely screen the openings of septic tanks and rainwater tanks
    • use insecticide sprays and vapour dispensing units 
    • install fly screens on windows, doors, vents and chimneys
    • use mosquito coils outside in well ventilated areas
  • Most mozzie bites can be managed by washing the bite area with soap and water or by applying ice packs to reduce pain and swelling. Antihistamine creams may also relieve itching. Make sure you follow the directions on the product label.

    Avoid scratching the bite as it can break the skin and lead to infection. Symptoms of an infected bite include swelling, pain, redness and inflammation. If you think a bite is infected, seek assistance from your pharmacist.

    If after a mosquito bite, you develop a rash, flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headaches, joint or muscle pains (swelling or stiffness), fatigue, or you generally feel unwell, contact a doctor right away, or in an emergency call Triple Zero (000) or visit your nearest emergency department.

  • The best way to avoid mosquito bites during travel or camping is to:

    • reside or sleep in screened or air conditioned rooms
    • use a bed net if you are sleeping outdoors or if the area is known for mosquitoes. Nets are most effective when they are treated with a pyrethroid insecticide, such as permethrin. Pre-treated bed nets can be purchased before travelling, or nets can be treated after purchase
    • avoid known areas of high mosquito-borne disease transmission or outbreaks.

Current as at: Friday 28 October 2022
Contact page owner: Environmental Health