Although mosquitoes are annoying and mosquito bites cause quite possibly one of the most intense itches you might ever experience, mosquito-borne diseases are one of the more serious results of mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes have been around for centuries and it's pretty evident that they're not going anywhere. While it may be impossible to completely get rid of mosquitoes, there are things you can do to gain mosquito control and protect yourself and your loved ones against painful, itchy, disease-spreading mosquito bites.
What attracts mosquitoes to you?
There are a lot of different explanations for why a mosquito might bite one person instead of another in the same environment. The strength of different scents released from person to person can cause some people to have greater chances of being bitten by mosquitoes than others. Approximately 340 different kinds of chemical scents emitted by human skin attract mosquitoes but there are also other scents and physical motions that make us prone to mosquito bites.
Carbon dioxide -
Any host that takes in oxygen and releases CO2 will attract mosquitoes. This process is known as respiration and all living, breathing hosts that undergo this respiration process are blood organisms. Female mosquitoes feed on blood so when an animal or human host releases CO2, female mosquitoes seek them out as feeding sources and mosquitoes can detect carbon dioxide from up to 35 meters away. Larger individuals and pregnant women are a few examples of people that may be more at risk of mosquito bites than others because they are said to release more than the average amount of carbon dioxide.
Lactic acid -
Lactic acid is a waste product of metabolism that is released from the body through sweat. Lactic acid is released after exercising or eating salty foods or foods that are high in potassium. Mosquitoes are attracted to the release of lactic acid so a person that is sweating and releasing lactic acid is at a higher risk of suffering from mosquito bites.
Octenol is a chemical that is released through sweat and human breath. Mosquitoes can detect octenol from up to 100 feet away. Along with carbon dioxide, octenol attracts mosquitoes and increases your chances of getting mosquito bites.
- When breathing, people exhale water vapor and precipitation during active movement. Because mosquitoes need water to breed, even small amounts of water will attract them because it could mean possible breeding grounds for them.
Body heat -
Mosquitoes have sophisticated heat sensors and since circulating blood in humans and animals raises body temperature, those with high body temperatures are more likely to get mosquito bites. When body temperatures rise and moisture is released during exhalation or in the form of sweat, mosquitoes are attracted to the rising body heat along with strong scents that the body will naturally produce when body temperature rises. Different species of mosquitoes are attracted to different body temperatures.
Mosquitoes are able to seek out blood hosts by locating the changes in waves of light around them caused by movement. Although mosquitoes don't see very well, they are able to zoom in on their target. Because mosquitoes have blind spots separating each of their eyes, they can't see you until they are about 30 feet away and even then they can't really distinguish you from any other object of similar size and shape.
Dark colors -
Dark colors are another visual stimuli that mosquitoes use to seek out blood hosts. Dark clothing and dark foliage will draw mosquitoes to you and make you a target for mosquito bites. Wearing lighter colors will help protect against mosquito bites.
Why do mosquito bites itch?
The saliva that the female mosquito leaves behind and its anticoagulant properties is what actually cause the itching and swelling of the mosquito bite. Studies show that while not all of us have allergic reactions to mosquito bites, the majority of us do have a small reaction that causes the small red bumps and intense itching. Not only is saliva the actual factor that causes a mosquito bite to itch, it is also how mosquito-borne viruses are spread from one host to another by the female mosquito.
How should I treat mosquito bites?
Luckily for as long as mosquitoes have been around, the assortment of remedies for the itching and swelling left behind by mosquito bites keeps growing. Some remedies are a little unconventional and have been considered mom's secret home remedies while others have been tested and proven to cure itching and swelling from mosquito bites by medical groups.
Home remedies -Over the years, people have come up with some pretty interesting home remedies for mosquito bites including garlic, mud, saliva, and even carving a little x into the mosquito bite to stop the itching. Ice has also been used to soothe mosquito bites and while some of these remedies might soothe the itching for a while, they will only provide temporary relief.
Oral over the counter remedies - Oral antihistamines will provide relief from itching and pain caused by mosquito bites. An example of oral over the counter antihistamines is Benadryl tablets. Tylenol Severe Allergy and Claritin are also over the counter antihistamines that can reduce itching and swelling. Aspirin & Ibuprofen have an anti-inflammatory in them so they can also be used to soothe uncomfortable symptoms from mosquito bites.
Topical over the counter remedies - Topical remedies for mosquitoes bites use topical antihistamines, topical anesthetics, or topical steroids to soothe itching, swelling, and pain. Benadryl, Cortisone 10, Caladryl lotion, and Calamine Lotion, can be used to topically relieve itching, swelling and pain from mosquito bites.
While most mosquito side effects from mosquito bites can be treated at home with over the counter products, some people can experience severe allergic reactions to mosquito bites. Signs of an allergic reaction, which may occur within seconds to minutes, include sneezing, wheezing, hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sudden anxiety, dizziness, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, and itching or swelling of the eyes, lips, or other areas of the face. If many of these symptoms occur after a mosquito bite a physician should be contacted immediately.
What are the dangers associated with mosquito bites
Female mosquitoes are not only blood-seeking, biting insects. They are also estimated to be responsible for causing more human deaths than any other single cause. Mosquito-borne diseases have been a threat for centuries and as our world rapidly changes, people in tropical environments are not the only ones at risk anymore. Urban crowding, global warming, mosquito resistance to many mosquito control insecticides, and diminishing public health are all factors that have mosquito-borne diseases on the rise in the United States.
Although the life span of a mosquito varies by species, adult female mosquitoes live 2-3 weeks and in rare cases, some species live for up to 6 months. Female mosquitoes are vector agents that are capable of carrying various mosquito-borne diseases without being infected with the disease themselves. A mosquito's immune system recognizes and discards illnesses, which allows them to carry the disease from person to person throughout their life.
The Centers for Disease Control have reported a high and rising number of mosquito-borne illnesses in the United States including Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, West Nile Virus, Rift Valley Fever, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Japanese Encephalitis, Saint Louis Encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis, Chikungunya Fever, and Heartworm Disease.
How can I protect myself from mosquito bites?
The best way to protect yourself from mosquito bites is to stay away from areas with high mosquito populations and avoid outdoor activities when mosquitoes are the most present. Mosquitoes like to dwell in cool, shady, heavily wooded areas, in swamps, and any other moisture rich places. Most mosquito species don't like direct sunlight so they will come out of their breeding and resting areas at dusk and at dawn to feed. If you have to go out at these peak mosquito times, wear light clothing that is a little on the thicker side, and use mosquito repellent to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
There are many different mosquito control systems available to homeowners that offer safe and effective protection against mosquito bites. Depending on the level of mosquito control that your situation requires, some mosquito control systems offer permanent mosquito control solutions while others are more of a temporary fix to kill mosquitoes and for use in mild mosquito control cases. The following mosquito control equipment will help you gain mosquito control and effectively protect you against mosquito bites.
Mosquito traps offer the highest level of protection against mosquito bites because they not only offer immediate protection but long term results as well. Mosquito traps will start to kill mosquitoes on your property immediately but what makes them so effective is the fact that they are able to interrupt the breeding cycle and prevent future mosquito generations from taking over your property. Mosquito traps also effectively diminish mosquito populations in breeding ground if properly placed.
Mosquito traps achieve high catch rates and effectively kill mosquitoes by simulating human and animal-like characteristics to lure mosquitoes away from you and to the trap. Octenol, CO2, moisture, Lurex, and waves of light are some of the simulations that mosquito traps use to attract and kill mosquitoes. Some mosquito traps also use dark colors to attract mosquitoes to the mosquito trap. A few reputable mosquito trap models include SkeeterVac and Mosquito Magnet mosquito traps.
Mosquito Dunks and Mosquito Bits
Mosquito Dunks and Mosquito Bits offer effective mosquito control by targeting mosquitoes in their breeding grounds. These mosquito control systems eliminate both the breeders and mosquito populations that are still in the larval stage of their life cycle. Mosquito Dunks float on freestanding water sources to eliminate mosquito populations while Mosquito Bits are great for soggy grassy areas. Both Mosquito Dunks and Mosquito Bits can be used in birdbaths, ponds, or any other areas that are frequented by humans and animals as they are harmless to humans and wild life.
Mosquito Misting Systems
Mosquito misting systems use a variety of mosquito repellents including botanical, all natural, and synergized concentrates that effectively repel and kill mosquitoes on contact.
AllClear Mosquito Misters repel and kill mosquitoes by delivering an atomized mist for 3 minutes at a time. Depending on which concentrate you use, the mist will offer anywhere from 2-6 hours of protection against mosquito bites. Mosquito misting is a clean, convenient mosquito control method that appeals to country club and resort owners as well as homeowners.
Adult mosquitoes like to rest on foliage, grass, trees and other vegetation and are very vulnerable to chemical spraying systems. Mosquito chemical spraying systems provide the advantage of permeating those small cracks and crevasses that other methods of mosquito control can't. When sprayed on grass, trees, bushes, the sides of your home and fence, and other areas throughout your lawn, chemical spraying systems kill mosquitoes by attacking their nervous system. Commercial spraying companies can be found locally in most cases. Other products for homeowners include Mosquito Barrier which is a garlic based product known to repel and kill mosquitoes.
There are a variety of mosquito repellents on the market that effectively repel mosquitoes and offer hours of protection against mosquito bites. Spray repellents come in a variety of formulas. Some are all natural like Liquid Fence Mosquito Repellents that use lemongrass and citronella scents to repel mosquitoes, and some that are made with DEET and other potent mosquito repelling chemicals. Mosquito Repellent Patches, Sunjel Alcohol Fuel Citronella Mosquito Repelling Drops, and Mosquito Repellent Towelettes are also products that offer protection against mosquito bites.
Although completely avoiding mosquitoes is virtually impossible, protecting yourself from mosquito bites, treating them, and preventing them isn't. We hope that this article has provided you with the mosquito bite protection and prevention tips that you need to gain mosquito control.