Mosquitoes in the Summer
The summer evenings are warm this time of year. It is an ideal time to sit on the deck gazing at stars and watching fireflies dance while sipping a cocktail. Sounds soothing, doesn’t it? It can be until your ears pick up the annoying high pitched whine. You know the one. It signals the brief but stinging pain on the arm or leg or goodness no the face and is usually followed by constant itching for the following days or sometimes weeks. Evening football games or practices with my kid have been the worst. Parks seem to be a magnet for the little buggers and I always come home with multiple itchy swellings. How do mosquitoes know how to find us? Why do some of us seem to be attacked more often than other lucky buggers? Read on to discover the top ten reasons mosquitoes bug us.
“In the 1820s and 1830s, about two-thirds of workers digging the Rideau Canal between Kingston and Ottawa contracted malaria, and there were an estimated 1,000 malaria-related deaths.” — ANDRÉ PICARD
The temperate form of malaria has since been eradicated and is no longer a threat in Canada.
Top Ten Reasons Mosquitoes Bug You
- Mosquitoes have been around for 170 million years and there are over 175 species in North America meaning there is a mosquito for everyone!
- Female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite in order to obtain blood to develop fertile eggs. Diseases like West Nile Virus, prevalent in North America, can be transmitted from an infected individual to a healthy person through the bite of a mosquito.
- Female mosquitoes have two tubes injected into the skin through their mouth parts. One tube injects enzymes that stop the blood from clotting and the other sucks blood from their victim.
- Mosquitoes seem to target people with high levels of cholesterol or steroids on the skin surface.
- Because mosquitoes can ‘smell’ uric acid, people with high levels of uric acid on their skin are targeted more.
- Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide which we all produce; however, larger people produce more than smaller individuals which is why adults are bitten more than children and pregnant women produce more, so are targeted as well.
- Mosquitoes can smell carbon dioxide and lactic acid from up to 100 feet away.
- Movement and heat also attract the mosquitoes so sports activities which cause you to release more carbon dioxide and sweat lactic acid onto your skin make you a stronger target.
- Clothing that contrasts with your background makes you easier to see by mosquitoes.
- People are not their first choice of victim as they prefer horses, cattle and birds but we are a tasty alternative.
What Can Be Done to Reduce the Risk?
- Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so eliminating sources of standing water like pots and toys reduce their numbers.
- If you have a water bath, change the water frequently.
- Using bugspray with Deet is a reliable chemical method of warding off their bite.
- Citronella has limited effectiveness but citronella candles burned on the deck might provide some relief.
- Home-made mosquito collectors which I will preview in a later post can also attract and kill these pesky insects.
Summer time provides great opportunities to enjoy a pleasant evening enjoying all nature has to offer. Unfortunately, we often have to put up with the nastier side of nature in the form of aggressive, biting insects like the mosquito. Reduce you risk by using bug spray with deet or conversely trying a few of the non-chemical methods out there. In my next post, I will give instructions and comment on the effectiveness of a home grown trap easily made. I’ll keep you posted on how it works!
Do you get bugged by bugs like mosquitoes when trying to enjoy the best of the summer? Feel free to give us your tips for surviving these little buggers in the comments below!
Freudenrich, Craig, Ph.D. How Stuff Works.com. July 5, 2001 How Mosquitoes Work. July 14, 2014
Huebeck, Elizabeth, WebMD. January 21, 2012. Are You a Mosquito Magnet? July 14, 2014
National Geographic. Mosquito Culicidae. July 14, 2014
Picard, André, The Globe and Mail. July 14, 201. Why mosquitoes are no joke July 14, 2014