Florida has seen over 800 cases of Zika, and that number is creeping into Alabama. Insect repellent companies have made money hand over fist in the frenzy. Bug spray sales are up over 600% from last year. And now, just like mosquitos, scammers are preying on innocent victims. But instead of taking your blood, they’re draining your wallet.
“Once we get fearful of something, we grasp at anything that we think works,” says Detective Laura Soulier with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
Take these wristbands for instance. They claim to deter mosquitoes just by wearing these fancy bracelets. But don’t be fooled. They do nothing.
“I was reading an article that said that the bracelets, they actually watched the mosquitoes land on the bracelets,” says Medicap Pharmacist Karen Kight.
The New York Attorney General’s office has issued cease and desist letters to at least seven companies for false advertising.
“Some of the marketing campaigns aimed at people seeking to product their child are absolutely shameless,” says New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
That includes these pest repellents that claim to emit high frequencies to deter mosquitoes. Experts say it may actually attract mosquitoes.
And beware of products that say they’re “all natural” with lemongrass or citronella.
“They really didn’t repel the kind of mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus at all,” says Trisha Calvo with Consumer Reports.
And they definitely don’t work as well as DEET. Officials say a spray is the way to go, just be careful when applying DEET on children.
“10 percent DEET for children ages two through 12, over 12 and adults would be up to 30 percent,” says Kight.
Experts say look for FDA-approved products and don’t pay attention to personal testimonies or reviews for a product—look for scientific results.