The Truth About Mosquitoes

For me, there are not many things I despise on this beautiful and bewildering planet of ours, however, mosquitoes certainly fall into this category for me. In fact, they are the only thing I’ll kill. Killing a mosquito that’s trapped in mosquito netting or in the car with me and finding no blood inside is always a celebratory moment that deserves a little dance.

Victory!
Victory!!!

I live in Nigeria, so the fear of mosquito born illnesses such as Malaria, Dengue, Zika Virus and West Nile Virus are a daily worry for myself, and millions of people across the globe. Not only this, but whenever I get bitten the bites swell up so I look like I’ve been pelted with golf balls!!

Exhibit A. Bites from earlier today. They’ll be twice the size tomorrow!

Today, I am going to share a few facts and maybe bust a few myths about mosquitoes and the risks of Malaria as well as adding a few bite prevention tips.

**Did You Know?**

  • Whilst Mosquitoes don’t live long, they are considered the world’s deadliest animal. They infect around 250 million people each year worldwide with Malaria and other diseases which kill roughly 1 million people; mostly children in Africa.
  • Only female mosquitoes bite as they need a blood meal before laying eggs. Male Mosquitoes survive on plant nectar.
  • There are over 3000 different species of Mosquito throughout the world.
  • Mosquitoes are very old! As old as the Dinosaurs infact, with evidence of these biting insects dating back to the Triassic Period!

Why Are Mosquitoes Attracted To Me?

I don’t know about you, but if I’m out with friends, most of them can relax easy knowing I’m around as Mosquitoes generally flock in my direction. I believe I am in the 20% of people that are particularity irresistible to Mosquitoes. Below are a few attractive attributes that attract the nasty hunters to you.

Attire

  • Mosquitoes are highly visual and use their eyes to track down humans.
  • They can see a human from between 5 and 15 metres away!
  • Research shows that wearing darker colours such as black, green & red makes you easier to spot. So either run for the hills or change your clothing!

Blood Type

  • What blood type are you? If like me you have Type O blood, research studies have found that you are twice as likely to be bitten than those with Type A blood.
  • Type B are in the middle.

Gas

  • Mosquitoes can sense Carbon Dioxide from a significant distance, so when you exhale, they can track you down.
  • Larger people exhale more often making them more prone to bites.
  • Ever heard the awful buzz of a Mosquito around your head at night? Well, as we exhale through our noses and mouths, Mosquitoes are attracted to our heads.

Heat and Scent

  • As well as CO2, it seems those pesky Mosquitoes can also hunt us down through lactic acid, ammonia, and other compounds emitted in sweat.
  • If you’re not much into exercise, take a sigh of relief. Mosquitoes are attracted to hot, sweaty humans as strenuous exercise increases the buildup of lactic acid and heat in your body. Ewwwww.

Skin

  • Research has shown that different type of bacteria on our skin can make you more attractive to these vile creatures.
  • The microscopic life which lives on our skin, mixed with our sweat, gives us all a distinct scent, some of which of more attractive to Mosquitoes.

Beer

  • Much like us humans, it also appears like Mosquitoes love a good brew. So if you enjoy a beer, be sure to take extra preventatives as the Mozzies will be coming for you.
  • Studies have shown that mosquitoes landed on study participants after drinking a 12-ounce beer, more than before, however, the reasons as to why are not fully known.

Pregnancy

  • Ladies in late pregnancy exhale around 21% greater volumes of breath rather than non pregnant women.
  • The abdomen of pregnant women is approximately 0.7°C hotter than other women.
  • The added heat and Co2 makes pregnant women prime candidates for a Mosquito snack.

Prevention

When it comes to Mosquitoes, taking preventative measures is always better than taking the risk and seeking medical attention later. The below are a few tips on how you can try to deter the pesky little blood suckers.

  • Remove any standing water from around your home as Mosquitoes come to lay their eggs in shallow water or damp soil.
  • The best time to avoid mosquitoes is in the afternoon, when temperatures are hottest and the insects rest in cooler spots.
  • If you are a travelling to a Malaria infected area it is advised to take antimalarial drugs because if you are bitten, these will help prevent the infection of Malaria. Always speak with your Doctor first to find the one best suited to you.
  • If natural home solutions is more you thing, then the following list of plants are said to deter Mosquitoes, I definitely have a few scattered about the place! Lavender, Marigolds, Citronella Grass, Catnip, Rosemary, Basil, Scented Geraniums, Bee Balm, Mint, Floss Flower, Sage and Allium, will not only deter pesky Mosquitoes but other insects as well such as ants. They are also pretty easy to grow.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists only 4 chemicals as being effective for repelling mosquitoes: DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (or its synthetic version, called PMD) and IR3535. Go for higher DEET content, it’ll give you better protection.
  • If you find Mosquitoes in your home you can also buy DEET plugins to deter them as well as Mosquito Zappers. Please always read directions and effects prior to purchasing.
  • Although not everyone’s favourite deterrent, Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN’s) last for a few years and reduce the risk of malaria in pregnant women and children by around 50%!
  • Mosquitoes love to bite around the ankles, so instead of wearing these bands on my wrist, I normally just wear it like a tag around my ankle!
  • Special clothing can be purchased that has been especially woven to stop the Mosquito’s nozzle penetrate through to your skin! I particularity recommend this is trekking in the jungle. The few items below are not an extensive list, you can anything and everything from short sleeves to long sleeves, dresses, beach wear, hats, scarves. You name it, they have it.
  • Of course, if you do get bitten and react badly as I do you can of course take antihistamines and apply antihistamine bite cream

I hope the above shed some light into Mosquitoes and how they select their victims and how to take preventative measures. As we speak I am sat on a lovely beach front getting absolutely savaged by them! I hope you are more lucky than I.

Cat

xx

Ouidah, Benin
My current location, Ouidah, Benin

2 thoughts on “The Truth About Mosquitoes

  • Ah what a good blog and if course we all have our own routines. For some, some will say some preventative measures are old wives tales but if they work! My wife is, like you a target as soon as she arrives, whether that be Kenya, Cuba or anywhere so we always go through the same routine.
    The white / light coloured clothing is always a good tip. Our routine includes:
    1. Odourless Garlic and Vitamin BY tablets daily for 6 weeks before leaving. Always good anyway. We supplement it when we can eating marmite wherever we are, we both like it.
    2. Avoid anything highly perfumed. Indeed we try perfume free things.
    3. Yes, I don’t care what people say, it works for us, Avon Pink So Soft Body Wash.
    4. Boots Solare sunscreen that also contains bug repellent.
    5. I am not adverse to the Jungle formula anti mosquito lotion. My wife uses a natural one.
    It seems a lot of fuss but 16 years going to Kenya including high mosquito areas and we can count bites on one hand.

    Great blog Cat.

    • Thanks for the additional tips, Ade! Some if these I actually do as well like the garlic tablets and not wearing perfume.

      I need to be more strict with routine. When I was in Togo earlier in the year I counted 149 bites just on one leg!

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