Dealing With Mosquitoes in Japan

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April 9, 2014

Last week, the first mosquito of the season made its way into my room. The little jerk was one of those zebra-striped (Tiger Mosquito) silent types. Fortunately, these kind happen to be lazy flyers. As much as I consider myself a compassionate person, mosquitoes are difficult to forgive.

I honestly don’t mind the humidity of Japanese summers, but I can’t stand the mosquitoes. Luckily, there are plenty of products available for dealing with mosquitos in Japan but before learning about these products, you should memorize two useful words:

蚊除け (kayoke) – A product that is labeled “kayoke” will repel mosquitoes.
蚊取り (katori) – A product that is labeled “katori” will kill mosquitoes.

Personally, my strategy is first to use simple methods, such as wearing long sleeves and sealing entrances. Mosquitoes can come in through your bathroom fan vent, so you may want to get a filter to keep them out.

Next comes the mosquito repellent, which includes sprays (蚊除けスプレー, mushiyoke supure), hanging repellent sheets (虫よけバリア, mushiyoke baria), and aroma oils.

If they still manage to slip past all my defences, it’s time to bring out the big guns! These products, a mosquito’s worst nightmare, are listed below.

Mosquito Coil
(蚊取り線香, katorisenko)

A mosquito coil is basically an incense stick that contains insecticide. When the stick is burned, the smoke kills nearby mosquitoes. The standard mosquito coil is a gray or earth-colored spiral and will last for several hours. Naturally, cute mosquito coil containers are also available. The container you’ll encounter the most is a kayaributa (蚊遣豚), which is a ceramic pig. The smoke comes out of the pig’s nose, proving that the pigs are on our side.

mosquito-1

On the downside, the mosquito coil smoke can have an unpleasant smell and irritate the throat and eyes. In addition, the chemicals can have a negative effect on small pets. For these reasons, I suggest taking precautions to reduce these and any other negative effects when using a mosquito coil.

Mosquito Exterminating Mat
(蚊取りマット, katorimatto)

Mosquito mats might not have as much nostalgic value, but do present a safer alternative to the tradition mosquito coil. A mosquito mat is put on a mosquito mat heater, which causes the mat to release pesticide. Depending on the type, a mosquito mat heater will work with batteries or an electric outlet. This means no smoke, no smell, and no fire. As for the mat, it can last from half a day to a whole day. Kincho is a well-known brand for mosquito mats and insecticide in general.

mosquito-3

Liquid-Type Electric Mosquito Exterminator
(電子蚊取り器, denshikatoriki)

The liquid mosquito exterminator seems to be more popular now than the mat. The electric device may run on batteries or by electric plug. A liquid pesticide is first poured inside the device. Then, as you might expect, the device propels the pesticide into the air for a smell-free, smoke-free, mosquito-free room. The liquid-type exterminator has an edge over the mat in that it lasts a month or more. Earth No Mat (アースノーマット) is probably the most popular liquid-type exterminator.

mosquito-2

These are some of the main types of mosquito extermination methods used in Japan. What are your recommendations for keeping mosquitoes away?

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Spends weekends aimlessly wandering Tokyo.
  • Catnip in pots at all windows. I had absolutely no mosquito problems in my room, where I had to have the window open permanently since the aircon wasn’t functioning, for the entirety of our hot and humid summer. We have two ponds in our own garden where they breed along with plenty of other places nearby, so there’s never a shortage of them.

    Within a few days of my catnip plants dying horrible deaths to my mom’s Siamese and being removed from my room, I was dealing with dozens of killed mosquitos and more bites than I cared to count.

    My strategy for dealing with them now is simple: I get bitten so much I don’t even notice it anymore.

    • This is a good idea. I’m not fond of the chemical solution so I might try catnip this summer.

    • Great idea with the catnip. I’ve had luck with just sealing up my place and have been able to keep the katorisenko use to a minimum. Using a less-toxic solution like catnip sounds like something to try. I’m not sure I could ever get used to being bitten that much!

  • thanks for the tips, I enjoyed reading the Infos and apply these things myself in my place. 🙂

  • Ouchie, mosquitoes. Not looking forward to reliving childhood in deep south of US.

  • Kalisto Angelique Hart

    Thank you =^.^=

  • TheWanderingJewels

    We got them here in the midwest U.S. as well. The incense coils have been a stand by for some time for us

  • Jennifer Williams

    I would be worried about the pesticide coils/ burners just because one it is poison in some form and if it can cause issues in small pets and even cause throat/ eye irritation, it can’t be good to be around in case of breathing it in.

  • Katorisenko doesn’t really kill mosquitoes. Also interesting how people in japan react to critique of katorisenko, it’s really unpleasant for me, i get irritation in my nose and throat if smoke is too dense. It’s one of sources of PM2.5 particles (and some harmful chemicals), which is a problem mostly in Kyushu. Air pollution from China reaching Japan, people wear masks and talk about how bad for health it is, but totally fine using katorisenko indoors even with closed windows.

    It’s for outdoors or old japanese houses, that are aired really well.

  • ursosentado

    Here in my place we use a tennis-like racket that zaps the little basterds. Doens’t solve the main problem, though. We have to put sanitary water on the ponds and other places wheres water, killing the larvaes and eggs.

    • Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenberg V

      Let me guess, Philippines right?

  • Lagosta

    I work at a mosquito coil factory haha

  • Rich Boerbon

    Get a 2 Liter plastic soda bottle, remove the cap and cut the top 1/3 of the bottle off. Set the top aside. Pour 1/3 cup of brown sugar in the bottom half of the bowl, add 1 tsp of yeast and warm water. This concoction is irresistible to Mosquito’s. Now take the top of the bottle and invert it and set it over the bottom half of the bottle. This will allow Mosquito’s in but they will get stuck inside and eventually die.

  • John Munjak

    Can anyone tell me why the mosquito coil holder is pig-shaped?

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