How Toxic is Your Mosquito Treatment?

When it comes to repelling mosquitoes, there are all sorts of alleged solutions. While some work better than others, it’s important to know what mosquito control chemicals are being used in your day-to-day mosquito killing and repellent products, how toxic they are, and what natural mosquito repellent alternatives exist. 

What is Mosquito Control? 

Mosquito control refers to the management of mosquitoes in an infested area. Preventative measures, including insecticide, should be taken to address a widespread mosquito problem.

The method for getting rid of and killing mosquitoes differs depending depending on where they are in their life cycle. There are four stages of insecticide treatment, including egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Each stage has treatment specifications and methods of elimination. The two most common stage-specific insecticides for mosquito control are larvicides and adulticides. 


Larvicides are a type of insecticide used to target mosquitos at the larval stage. Larvicides are commonly used in standing water, where mosquitoes lay their eggs. The chemicals in larvicide are also specifically designed for water. 

Mosquito larvae are often found in objects that hold standing water including:

  • Buckets 
  • Flower Pots 
  • Gutters 
  • Trash Can Lids
  • Grill Covers

All of the above items (and the corresponding standing water that services as a breeding ground for mosquitoes) can easily be found in anyone’s backyard. Getting rid of mosquitoes in your yard is an important first step to mosquito control.  


If you didn’t take the proper steps to control mosquitoes at their breeding and larvae stages, now you’ll need proper treatment for adult mosquitoes — that’s where Adulticides come in. Adulticides are used to control fully grown mosquitoes. In places where mosquito prevention is needed, adulticides can be utilized as either fog or mosquito misting systems. Adulticides are applied at a ULV or ultra-low volume. ULV sprayers send aerosol droplets into the air, which then kill mosquitoes that fly through that area. 

Using this method, most mosquitoes are thwarted upon impact. If a property is plagued by a massive infestation of mosquitoes, repeated application will most likely prove to be effective. 

What are Mosquito Control Chemicals? 

Most insecticides are differentiated by chemical composition and method of absorption. There are three types of insecticides, including systemic, ingested, and contact insecticides. Whether an insecticide is classified as systemic, ingested, or contact depends how it affects the mosquito.

Systemic Insecticides

Systemic insecticides are intended to be sprayed directly on plants. The plant absorbs the composition, making ingestion of the affected vegetation lethal. Some systemic insecticides are chemically altered upon absorption, while others remain unchanged. The effectiveness of the systemic insecticide will decrease over time, however, it can be reapplied by spraying the leaves of the plant, saturating the soil, or treating the seeds with the solution. 

Systemic insecticides are soluble, meaning they are dissolved easily. Compared to ingested and contact insecticides, systemic insecticides are less likely to cause adverse reactions in birds, pets, and humans because the affected plant needs to be ingested for this insecticide to cause any harm. 

Ingested Insecticides 

Ingested insecticides are either sprayed or distributed on plants for mosquito control. Unlike systemic insecticides, they simply lay on top of the plant rather than being completely absorbed.  Once placed, the insecticide may then be ingested by the mosquito, killing the pest. 

Contact Insecticides 

This type of insecticide affects mosquitoes upon direct contact. The most common type of mosquito control chemicals, contact insecticides are sprayed on vegetation using spray and fogging systems, or an aerosolized solution. 

What Chemicals are Used for Mosquito Control?

The chemicals used in an insecticide correspond with its classification. Insecticides can be organic, inorganic, or organophosphate, depending on their chemical make-up. Most insecticides will also include one of four toxicity categories including:

  • Category I (red label) – Highly toxic and severely irritating
  • Category II (blue label) – Moderately toxic and irritating 
  • Category III (yellow label) – Faintly toxic and irritating
  • Category IV (green label) Non-toxic and not an irritant

Organic Insecticides

Organic insecticides are created from natural sources. According to the National Organic Program, synthetic insecticides are forbidden for use on organic food. Organic insecticides must also have a mineral or botanical origin. Many organic insecticides include ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide, lime sulfur, ethanol, or soap. 

Organic Insecticides effectively repel mosquitoes without the use of damaging chemicals. Pyrethrin and Pyrethroids are recurrently used in organic insecticides, though both are known to have adverse effects in humans and pets. 

Pyrethrin and Pyrethroids

Pyrethrin, or pyrethrum, is a potent insecticide produced from the chrysanthemum flower. Pyrethrin is considered a natural insecticide because of its botanical composition. However, the compound is highly effective in altering an insect’s nervous system (as well as the nervous systems of pets and beneficial insects like bees). 

Pyrethroids are made from the same chemical structure as pyrethrin but considered a synthetic insecticide. Pyrethroids are mixed with a synergist, like piperonyl butoxide and MGK-264, to inhibit the insect’s ability to rid the insecticide from their system. Pyrethroids are considered an enhanced form of pyrethrin, because of their increased stability in sunlight. 

Are Pyrethrin and Pyrethroids safe? Pyrethrin and pyrethroids are considered low-toxicity. However, they can be dangerous to both humans and pets when exposed to ample amounts. Pyrethrin and pyrethroids can be hazardous when ingested or inhaled and can induce symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.   

Pyrethrin does not seem like the best type of pesticide to spray in a yard where you, your pets, or your children will be hanging out. 

Inorganic Insecticides

Inorganic insecticides are derived from man-made ingredients or synthetic formulas. Inorganic insecticides mostly contain heavy metals and arsenates, including copper, sulfur, and fluorine. Inorganic insecticides are proven to last longer than organic insecticides for mosquito control. 

Are inorganic insecticides safe? In addition to not being as environmentally sustainable as an organic option, inorganic insecticides can be harmful to humans and pets. Precautions should also be taken when using an inorganic insecticide, as exposure can irritate the skin. 

Organophosphate Insecticides 

Organophosphate insecticides are a class of insecticides. Known to be highly toxic, organophosphates were formerly used in homes, gardening, and agriculture production. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, organophosphates, such as parathion and chlorpyrifos, disrupt the nervous system and brain function of insects. 

re organophosphate insecticides safe? While effective for mosquito management, organophosphates can be lethal to humans and pets. Organophosphates can stop cholinesterase, a key enzyme in the body, from working to carry signals between the nerves and muscles. This can lead to serious, unwanted side effects in humans, including stomach cramps, muscle twitching, and confusion. 

Malathion and Naled are among the most frequently used organophosphate insecticides.


Malathion was first registered for use in the United States in 1956. Widely used in agriculture and landscaping, malathion is classified as an organophosphate insecticide. The compound is effective in preventing mosquitoes and other pests, including fruit flies, fleas, and lice. 

Because malathion targets the nervous system, it can be potentially harmful to humans and pets. According to the Agency for Toxic Substance & Disease Registry, symptoms of malathion poisoning include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness 
  • Vomiting 
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea 
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness 
  • Loss of consciousness 


Introduced in the 1960s, Naled is used to control adult mosquitoes. Naled is applied to greenhouse food crops and dispersed in an aerial manner through ULV spray. Sprayers are connected to airplanes that send aerosol droplets, containing the insecticide, into the air. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, naled is one of the most commonly used insecticides for mosquito control. 

Naled is mildly toxic to humans and pets. It can be severely irritating to the eyes and skin and may cause irreversible damage if ingested. Similar to other organophosphates, naled can cause chest tightness, headache, and wheezing. 

Safe, Effective, Chemical-Free Mosquito Control Solution

While effective in controlling mosquitoes, the chemicals in most insecticides are unsafe for humans, pets, children, and beneficial insects. Our mosquito magician concentrate is an effective, safe mosquito repellent that can be used around your family and pets. 

Mosquito Magician’s safe, effective mosquito repellent is made with all-natural ingredients, all of which are classified as “minimum risk.” Mosquito Magician’s active ingredients are oils derived from plants, including: 

  • Citronella
  • Cedar
  • Garlic
  • Lemongrass
  • Geraniol 
  • Rosemary

Our non-toxic mosquito control system repels mosquitoes with over 98% effectiveness. 

You can apply Mosquito Magician with a hose attachment, backpack sprayer, or by hooking our Mosquito Magician machine up to your property’s existing irrigation system.