How can I deal with rampant indoor mosquitos?
September 28, 2009 4:51 PM   Subscribe

How can I rid myself of indoor mosquitos?

My wife and I live in a small South Korean apartment that faces the street. Right now we can't open our windows- We'll spend the rest of the night swatting mosquitos and scratching bug bites. Even with the windows closed they keep finding a way in and making my sleep miserable. To make matters worse, my bug bites BLOW UP. I've tried snuggling under the covers and jacking the AC, but then they just nibble on my face. Right now I look a bit like I lost a fight.

So, question: What can I do INDOORS to rid myself of/deter mosquitos? I have no idea how they're getting in. I sealed every crack and loose panel I could find and we haven't cracked a window in weeks. I'm a little weirded by DEET and definitley don't want to spray it around indoors. What're my other options?

Bonus Q: What's the life cycle of a mosquito? It's starting to cool down a bit, when is it safe to open the windows again?
posted by GilloD to Science & Nature (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Mosquitos larvae can thrive in surprisingly small amounts of water. They might be coming from within the house: check the saucers of potted plants or any other open water you might have sitting about.

Mosquito netting to protect you while you sleep, it's a tropics necessity.
posted by jamaro at 4:57 PM on September 28, 2009

I have no idea how they're getting in. I sealed every crack and loose panel I could find and we haven't cracked a window in weeks.

Are you sure they're not breeding inside? Do you, by any chance, have houseplants in self-watering pots? The water reservoir in the bottom of those is a perfect mozzie incubator. A teaspoon of olive oil floating on the water in each reservoir will smother the little bastards.
posted by flabdablet at 4:58 PM on September 28, 2009

Like many Koreans we have that "Your bathroom IS the shower" thing where they just hook a shower head to the sink and call it a day. Hence, our bathroom is wet maybe half the day. This could be the problem. Ideas for treatment of standing water in places you walk in?
posted by GilloD at 5:45 PM on September 28, 2009

It's also worth noting that we're not in a rural setting. We're about a 10 minute walk from Seoul in a city that reminds more of Midtown than Green Acres.
posted by GilloD at 5:46 PM on September 28, 2009

We use a Stinger trap. A machine that traps mosquitoes. We have one in our small bedroom. We keep it on constantly. Your situation I might recommend two. And then keep the door shut. This will create one mosquito-free room where you can sleep. Some people are skeptical if these machines work but when I open the drawer to clean it out it is always full of dead mosquitoes.

Anti-histamines should help with your reaction (IANAD).
posted by cda at 6:00 PM on September 28, 2009

Seconding the mosquito netting. I used it all last summer and it saved my sanity. And I live in Brooklyn.

Also, get some screens for your drains. Even if you don't have standing water in your house, chances are excellent you have it in your plumbing. Most hardware stores in the states have some version of a screen drain--not sure if you can find it in Seoul, but it's probably worth a look.
posted by balls at 6:39 PM on September 28, 2009

Ideas for treatment of standing water in places you walk in?

Do you see any wigglers on your puddles? They are pretty big and should be noticeable if they are there. Mosquito larvae can't survive being dried out, so a partially wet area isn't going to be hospitable for them. I once found a batch happily surviving in a cupped channel in a bathroom windowsill in a quarter inch of water.

You can kill wigglers by putting bleach in their water or a few drops of dish detergent or oil, as mentioned above. A few tablespoons of bleach would be the least slippery thing to put on the floor if you can't dry it out completely.
posted by jamaro at 6:43 PM on September 28, 2009

I once stayed with a friend who also had an unknown mosquito source - turned out they were coming in the (improperly connected) shower drain.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:06 PM on September 28, 2009

our bathroom is wet maybe half the day. This could be the problem.

Unlikely. Mosquito wrigglers need their standing water to stand for two weeks or so. Unless you have bathroom puddles that are longer-lived than that, they're most likely breeding somewhere else.

If your bathroom floor drain doesn't have a proper trap (does the room ever smell whiffy?) then it might well be a direct connection between your bathroom and mosquito breeding heaven. A simple plug or flap or bathmat kept over the drain when you're not using it would fix that. Might be worth dropping a mat over the drain, walking away for an hour, then lifting it and watching for a few minutes to see if any fly out. Chucking the occasional cup of bleach down the drain probably wouldn't hurt, either.

But until you do find out where they're coming from, a mosquito net is good. You'll also want to take a little pen torch to bed with you - very few things are as enraging as being in a dark room with a mozzie that managed to accompany you into the net.
posted by flabdablet at 9:17 PM on September 28, 2009

I'd go with the netting. I came to the conclusion that Korean mosquitoes bite more often than the Canadian variety I am used to. It seems like it only takes a couple to get inside and the buggers keep trading bites at you all night long.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:31 PM on September 28, 2009

Bonobo- YES. Sometimes I try and wait them out. It does not work.

We definitley have an open drain in our bathroom, I'll check it out. Thanks!
posted by GilloD at 9:59 PM on September 28, 2009

nth a mozzie net. Worth their weight in gold.
posted by pompomtom at 10:37 PM on September 28, 2009

I visited a friend in Korea recently and her combination of good netting and burning a lot of these coils (hastily googled image) seem to work a treat. In 10 days I had 1 indoor bite.
posted by dickasso at 12:56 AM on September 29, 2009

People in Asia mostly use mosquito coils (referenced by dickasso). Bug zappers used to work in the past.

You should be able to find herbal oils in Korea to put on your skin that'll soothe the bites and prevent more bites (linked example is Chinese, but you should be able to find the Korean equivalent in a pharmacy). Mosquito netting is only useful for when you're sleeping.
posted by cranberryskies at 2:41 PM on September 29, 2009

Right now we can't open our windows

This could actually be a fairly big contributor to your troubles. Mosquitoes track you down by the smell of the carbon dioxide you exhale. If your windows are all closed, the CO2 concentration in your indoor air is going to go up, and whatever crack they're getting in through will be exuding a substantial plume of mosquito-come-hither.

If you fitted insect screens to the windows, then those would be where most of your delicious fragrance leaves the building, and you'd end up with mozzies sitting frustrated on your screens instead of following your breath in through your apartment's smaller openings.

Something else you can do is use your own nose to find your building's weak points. Go outside while your beloved closes all the doors and windows and fogs the interior with some really whiffy air "freshener", then wander about outside sniffing your apartment to see if any of it is coming out.

I've tried snuggling under the covers and jacking the AC, but then they just nibble on my face

Does your AC have a fresh air inlet? If so, are you sure it's closed?
posted by flabdablet at 12:03 AM on September 30, 2009

Just wanted to say thanks for this thread, and especially the advice about putting oil in standing water.

We're staying in a 21st floor apartment in Beijing and we were all getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. The kids' faces were covered in red bites. Couldn't figure out how they were getting in, especially since the windows all had tight screens.

After I read this post, I realized that there were 5-6 vases around filled with water, holding plants. We put a little oil in each (used soya oil cause that's all we had) and the mosquitoes (and more importantly, the bites) have reduced dramatically in two weeks. Bonus: the plants didn't die.

This has made our stay here a lot more enjoyable. Thanks again!
posted by alicat at 6:19 PM on October 11, 2009

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