As we move into the summer months the days get longer and mosquitoes are out with a vengeance. Mosquitoes can ruin a barbecue, picnic or outdoor sporting event in little to no time. As the outdoor temperature continues to increase, so does our internal body temperature, which in turn causes our bodies to cool down by perspiring. The human body produces over 340 chemical odors during perspiration. Mosquitoes are especially attracted to a chemical in our sweat called Octenol. Some people produce more of this chemical than other people. This explains why some of us are more susceptible to mosquito bites than others.
The Spanish translation for mosquito is “little fly” and in Australia, mosquitoes are called “Mozzies”! No matter where you are from we all agree that mosquitoes are a nuisance! There are approximately 175 species of mosquitoes in the United States alone. Female mosquitoes can lay as many as 300 eggs at one time. Mosquitoes spend their first 10 days of life in water predominantly stagnant water.
Irritating Mosquito Bites
Only female mosquitoes bite. The females need the protein in our blood to help her eggs grow and develop. Mosquitoes don’t actually have teeth; they bite with a long serrated mouthpiece called a proboscis. They use the proboscis to pierce the skin and locate a capillary. As the mosquito sucks blood with the first proboscis, a second proboscis pumps saliva containing a mild painkiller and an anti-coagulant. The majority of people bitten have a mild allergic reaction to this saliva which causes the area around the bite to swell and itch.
Mosquitoes find their targets by detecting human breath and following carbon dioxide that is released when we exhale. Mosquitoes also use heat sensors around their proboscis to detect the warmth of our bodies and the blood inside it. Dark clothing attracts mosquitoes; darker clothing retains more heat than light colored clothing.
Disease Spreading Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are annoying but they can also spread disease. Mosquitoes spread diseases such as West Nile virus, Malaria, and Dengue fever. West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. This disease is also found in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Mexico, and Canada. West Nile virus first appeared in California in 2003 and by 2004, the disease had spread across the state.
Mosquito Prevention Tips
Here are some tips from Woodland-Davis Termite and Pest Control to help you protect yourself. To avoid being bitten by mosquitoes:
– Skip scented soaps, lotions and hair products when heading outside for the day.
– Whenever possible wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves. You may also wish to apply a personal insect repellent and apply extra protection by using a repellent especially designed for use on clothing.
– Remove any standing water from your property. Check for items such as buckets, or other containers and be sure to clean any debris that may have collected in gutters or other drainage systems. Change water regularly in decorative items like birdbaths and fountains.
– If you are fishing or hiking by mindful of heavily wooded areas, and lakes and ponds. These areas are often a breeding ground for mosquitoes.