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Mosquitoes and what people can do to help control them.
Enjoying outdoor activities during summertime is something we all share in common. However, the space between us and mosquitoes seems to become none, especially when mosquitoes find us as the delicious targets that satisfy their appetites. These bloodsuckers may not kill you, but their presence is annoying.
In the United States alone, mosquitoes can be found anywhere because their population is quite large. Their biting habits may also transmit diseases to people. The species can cause horrifying itches at times. The most common diseases are Malaria, Dengue, and Yellow Fever. It is also estimated by the annual report that 2 million people die every year due to bites from mosquitos which bore the illness. The most common disease is Malaria.
There are repellants being produced worldwide that contain a chemical property to keep mosquitoes away from biting your skin. However, researchers believe that these chemical agents may do harm to our health due to the toxic ingredients even at their lowest level. Even if we apply it on our skin, some insects just know how to successfully suck our blood regardless. This means that the prevention effort has failed.
How mosquito attacks you
You may be wondering how all of a sudden mosquitoes come to bite you. There is a scientific explanation to that. Mosquitoes actually can detect compounds or a certain chemical even from 50 yards away. The females are capable to detect the smell of blood. Unlike the male species, they are thirsty for protein in the blood because the property can produce their eggs.
Here are some of the things that mosquitoes are attracted to:
Chemical property: our body has chemical compounds that could potentially attract female mosquitoes. The odor is isolated in our body and can be sniffed by them. There are certain compounds that attract mosquitoes the most, which include: ammonia, lactic acid and octanol in sweat and human’s breath. Most of all, mosquitoes are into carbon dioxide. Thus, the more you have this compound, the more you are considered attractive to them. Therefore a bigger person tends to be bitten by mosquitoes because they emit CO2 more than thinner people.
Heat: Mosquitoes are attracted to heat. Thus, after an exercise under the sun and sweat, you become the target.
Adult mosquitoes are active during dusk and dawn, especially in dark or shady areas. This is because they cannot stand in the sunshine or they will die. During their immature stage, they can be found in stagnant water where females lay eggs. Every 3 days, a female would lay eggs and hibernate up to 1 semester.
The male mosquito has antennae so they may be able to locate the female species. Once they mate, a female mosquito needs protein to succeed with egg production. A female can lay 100 eggs at one time. This explains why only female mosquitoes bite us.
Female vs male mosquitoes
It is hard to determine with our own bare eyes whether it is a male or female mosquito. You need a dissecting microscope to find out. However, you can actually distinguish the females from males using these few facts:
- Male mosquitoes don’t bite because they don’t take blood as meals.
- Male mosquitoes have a smaller size than the females and they have a shorter lifespan.
- Male mosquito antennas are large and rough whilst the female’s is smoother.
The lifespan of mosquitoes, both males and females, is less than 60 days. For the male species, they live up to 10 days or even less. However, the female mosquitoes are somewhat more powerful with a lifespan up to 8 weeks when the circumstances are ideal.
The sweat that attracts mosquitoes
Mosquitoes aren’t just attracted to the sweat but precisely the old, dried sweat on our body. The chemical produced in sweat becomes ‘smelly’ to the mosquitoes once bacteria are produced. Consider this as the fermented process of your sweat.
In case of mosquitoes that bear Malaria, they are attracted to foot odor such as the old socks you have hung for days. And they easily target the host of our body because of the smell. When people have more sweat and secrete natural substances more than average people, they are invisible to mosquitoes. Somehow, mosquitoes can’t detect their presence. This explains why some of you may not be bitten by mosquitoes while your friend who sits next to you already complains about the itchiness.
The mosquito repellant
Currently there are hundreds of mosquito repellant products ranging from lotion to spray that are sold over the counter. It is obvious that these products contain chemicals that could be harmful to our health. Moreover, skin on children is more prone to develop allergies or other side effects because they absorb better than adult’s. What’s more, these chemical agents may contain potent effects when they come into contact with the nervous system.
Here are some of the health effects caused by insect repellant:
- Memory loss
- Muscle weakness
- Watered eyes
- Brain cell dysfunction
History regarding serious illness due to mosquito bites
Mosquitoes have long been considered as trouble for humans. Since the ancient period, mosquitoes have been in existence, even since the work of Aristotle in 300 BC.
The bite marks on the skin are caused by a mosquito’s saliva. As they suck blood with a tube, another tube draws out saliva that contains an anti-coagulant. This explains why after a mosquito bites an area on your skin, it becomes itchy and swollen a bit.
In terms of Malaria, the parasite actually lives inside the mosquitoes. It is then transferred to a human’s body through the bites. Mosquitoes in the West Nile have the most malarial parasites and it is carried in canine heartworm too.
The species then appeared in the US around the year 1998 after a scientist identified it in a Ugandan woman. The symptoms include fever. The virus spread became viral after Romania and South Africa were reported to have the most Malarial disease. It became an epidemic in 1999 in America.The Anopheles mosquito transmits the Malaria disease and it is considered the deadliest of all. In Africa alone, Anopheles kills more than a million of people every year.
Luckily, mosquitoes don’t transmit the HIV virus as their digesting system can actually break the virus before it is passed on. Hence, despite its size, the mosquito is considered as one of the most dangerous animals because of the disease transmission. It kills more people than cancer does.
Preventing mosquito bites
Mosquitoes may be small creatures, but their presence can lead to harmful health effects. This is why it’s important to avoid getting bitten with these useful guides.
There are ways to prevent mosquito bites that you can try:
- The non-chemical solution
Many experiments have been conducted to prevent mosquito bites. For instance, taking vitamin B supplements or applying tea tree oil have worked wonders in keeping mosquitoes away from your skin. Depending on the ingredients available, you can try alternative solutions like lavender fragrant oil that also smells great in your room. Lemon and water is also a natural repellent that you can make at home.
Or, you can make some of these natural repellents:
- Mix cinnamon leaf with olive oil
- Mix vanilla oil with olive oil
- Use citronella soap when bathing
- Consider the clothing you wear when going outdoors
If you are going camping in the mountains, it’s necessary to cover your exposed skin by wearing long sleeves and long pants. Loose clothing is not only comfortable to wear but it also serves to prevent mosquitoes from smelling your sweat. This will help to give maximum protection.
Another useful tip is to wear bright colored clothing. Since dark color materials often absorb heat, you will radiate heat when wearing a black tee.
- Drain stagnant water
Mosquitoes find stagnant water in the lake and your pile a great place to nest. This is like heaven for them because they can lay their eggs there. Hence, always drain the standing water like in your pet’s bowls, dustbin, tires, and even your tub and your toilet lid. Clogged drains are also havens for mosquitoes’ eggs. Thus, you should check the places that could possibly become the species’ habitat. If you have a small pool at home, it is best to pour chlorine to treat the water.
- Avoid going to tropical places in summer
If you love traveling, it is best to choose a cooler destination during warm weather. Egypt has long been known for its periodic flooding and all season heat. When it is time for mosquito seasons, the species get double the trouble. Unlike in warm places, cooler destinations like the Midwest of America allow mosquitoes to hibernate. Humid places breed the most mosquito population.
- Window netting
Living in a humid place causes you to come in contact with mosquitoes more often than not. You can try to use a mosquito net and install them on your windows.
How to treat mosquito bites naturally
If you can’t avoid from being bitten, you can treat the bites using natural ingredients from herbs or other soothing agents for your skin. Some natural herbs have anti-inflammatory properties that effectively reduce irritation or itch.
- Cinnamon: cinnamon contains an antifungal property that can be used to treat mosquito bites
- Aloe Vera: the compounds found in aloevera is beneficial for soothing skin irritation
- Cucumbers: the cooling agent in cucumbers reduces swelling
- Calendula: calendula soothes skin and also works as a natural moisturizing agent that won’t cause dryness.
- Tea tree oil: tea tree oil is often used in beauty products, but a recent study showed that the compound in tea tree oil has an antifungal property that can even heal a multitude of skin problems – that includes mosquito bites.
- Lavender: lavender is one of the most popular and effective essential scents that can keep mosquitoes away. But if you have been bitten by them, lavender has that antimicrobial property to make sure the spots don’t get reddened.
- Neem oil: neem oil is often used for treating eczema, but its property offers a soothing agent for the insect bites.
- Basil: the compound in basil relieves itches once applied on the freshly bitten skin.
- Peppermint leaves: peppermint offers that cool sensation to the skin, so this could be a great antidote for your itching. Crush mint leaves until you see the juice and apply it for temporary relief.
- Tea bags: don’t throw away your used tea bags because the astringent inside the tea can reduce swelling.
- Apple cider vinegar: add 2 cups to your bath and then leave it for 15 minutes before getting in. You can also dissolve baking soda in the tub.
More on how to treat mosquito bites
Heat or ice can be used to comfort the irritation after being bitten by mosquitoes. Simplycompress the area with an ice pack and leave it for 60 seconds. Or you can apply direct heat to relieve the itch. Heat the stainless steel spoon or other metal tools you have and carefully press it against the bitten area for a few seconds.
Our bathroom and kitchen also has a lot of tools you can obtain to relieve mosquito bites. What you should be looking for is alcohol. Alcohol has an anti-bacterial agent that when you rub it on the affected area relieves the itchiness. The alcohol substance may not be pure alcohol itself. It can either be toothpaste, sanitizer and even mouth wash. They are the perfect emergency kits to treat itch because of the cooling agent they contain. Moreover, the alcohol in the substance is a benefit for disinfecting the mosquito saliva on your skin.
A small amount of toothpaste provides long-lasting relief because of its baking soda and anti-inflammation ingredient. It is even better if the toothpaste has a menthol ingredient. The chemical property in a bath soap offers a soothing feel as the itch becomes irritating. Rub it on the affected spot and leave it dry for a few hours before rinsing it off.
The antiperspirant roll you have in the cabinet can also do the trick. It contains aluminum chloride – that absorbs the itching due to bites. For girls, clear nail polish can also be an emergency aid to treat the itch.
Many people also come up with home remedies that contain one or two of the ingredients mentioned above, but if you do not have time for that, you might want to just take it from the toiletries box and apply it on the affected areas.
How to control mosquitoes
There are 2 ways to control mosquitoes: individually and publicly. Homeowners can take precautions like:
- Dispose tin cans and unused plastics that can possibly hold water
- Clean rain gutters
- Always change water in the pools or pet’s bowl regularly
- Irrigate home garden without ignoring the standing water
A regular physical control habit can help to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and reduce the presence of their eggs.
Foods believe to draw mosquitoes away
It is not a myth that garlic can drive mosquitoes away. Many studies have shown that eating garlic provides mild protection from the inside. The odor produced by garlic has a sulfuric compound that when you eat it, you emit it through the skin – hence, it repels mosquitoes.
If you don’t feel like eating garlic, you can make garlic spray and use it in the garden. If you happen to be hiking on top of a mountain, you can spray garlic-water solution evenly on your skin because it’s not only effective to repel mosquitoes but also other insects that could possibly bite you.
There are foods that make you less visible to the mosquito radars. These foods usually have less lactic acid production – which means they are low in potassium. The rich sources of the potassium can be found in certain veggies and fruits. There are many foods that contain potassium that attract mosquitoes the most. These fruits are raisins, bananas and prunes. Foods that are high in potassium include potatoes, lima beans, and spinach. Hence, you should choose the foods you consume carefully if you don’t want mosquitoes to aim on you. You can eat watermelon, cabbage, blueberries, green peppers and apples instead. These foods contain a very small amount of potassium.
It is necessary to prevent mosquitoes from inhabiting your home. A proper prevention method should be used regularly and if you get bitten by a mosquito, it is important to be careful and stock up on some natural repellant wherever you go.