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.


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


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


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 PreventionΒ 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.



Ouidah, Benin
My current location, Ouidah, Benin

Pangolins – A Story of Survival

When I found out that I’d be moving to Nigeria, I thought I would be saying goodbye to the beautiful greenery, rolling hills and wildlife of Yorkshire and hello to the smoggy heat and grey bustling city life of Lagos.

How wrong could I be?

I never expected to find conservation centres home to Gorillas, Elephants, Monkeys, Crocodiles, Antelope and least of all Pangolins.

I didn’t even know Pangolins were native to Nigeria and I certainly wasn’t expecting to see any in the flesh in my life.

Pangolins are ant eating mammals covered in protective keratin scales and the only mammal known to have this feature. They are nocturnal creatures who spend most of their days curled up in tiny little balls sleeping; something they also do when feeling threatened, curling into a ball to expose their scales whilst using the sharp scales on their tails to lash out.

There are 8 different types of Pangolin, 4 listed as critically endangered and 4 listed as vulnerable and unfortunately, Pangolins are one of the most smuggled mammals in the world due to their meat being seen as a delicacy in China as well as their scales being used for medicinal purposes there.

For all the bad that happens to Pangolins, this is a story of 2 very lucky Pangolins, whom I like to call Mr & Mrs Pangolin.

Two friends and I were exploring a local market here in Nigeria. We had just come out of a Chinese market and my friend spotted what he thought was an Armadillo and some Turtles. After closer inspection I realised that we weren’t dealing with an Armadillo, the animal was a Pangolin.

As they were outside a Chinese market and given what we knew, the fate of the Pangolin was not going to be a good one.

My friend stealthily took a quick photo of the animals and we got out of there.

As soon as we got into the car, I got on the phone to start calling around organisations who could possibly go and rescue Mr Pangolin and the Turtles. My friend was on Google lining up the numbers whilst I kept hitting dead ends.

I remembered reading a BBC article before I came to Nigeria about a man who rescued animals. I knew he was the guy to call but for the life of me I couldn’t remember his name (this bit becomes relevant further on in the story.)

Eventually the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) enquiries team picked up the phone. I explained the situation and they were ready to help. Shortly afterwards, I was able to speak with Joseph Onoja, the Director of Technical Programmes of the NCF who assembled a rescue team straight away.

An hour and a half later a full rescue had been completed. And even better than we thought, there was a Mrs Pangolin as well as a Mr and a total of 8 Turtles. 😍

The rate this team were able to assist was incredible to say the least. I wanted to know more about the team and what their capabilities were so I requested to meet up with them and watch the Pangolins and Turtles be set free- a moment I will never forget.

After a weekend of recuperation with the vet, Dr Mark Ofua, it was time for the animals to be released.

Dr Mark Ofua Pangolin (as he is now known) arrived at the conservation centre with the animals and what a happy sight it was to see them.

I swear I recognised Dr Ofua but just couldn’t place him (again, this will become relevant later.)

Back Centre Joseph Onoja and far right Dr Mark Ofua. Myself holding Mrs Pangolin and my friend Marie to my right.

As soon as Mr Pangolin woke up and saw the forest around him, I think he knew what was going on. He seemed to get so excited like he knew he was going to be released.

A freshly awoken Mr Pangolin, I swear he’s smiling.

Mrs Pangolin having a quick bath and drink before her release.

After introductions, it was time for the release; we headed for a quiet spot in the bush and first up was Mr Pangolin.

The first smell of freedom.

What an incredible moment, seeing this little guy climb his way to freedom. It took all I had not to cry! But that wasn’t the end of it, next up was Mrs Pangolin.

Dr Mark Ofua ready to release Mrs Pangolin.
Look at that face 😍

Mrs Pangolin was a little more shy than her other half so we decided to give her some space, release the Turtles and come back to check on her. So next up… the Turtles!

Dr Mark Ofua putting the Turtles into the lake.

It was decided that 4 would be released at Lekki Conservation Centre and the other 4 at a nearby lake. This way the Turtle population could grow in 2 separate locations.

On the way back over to check on Mrs Pangolin, I had the chance to speak properly with Dr Mark Ofua. It turned out this wasn’t his first Pangolin rescue. He had returned around 20 back into the wild not to mention numerous snakes and other animals local to Nigeria.

Fairly recently he had even rescued a little black cat which was going to be used for ritual purposes. This is one of his few rescues that I think will end up permanently living with him.

I asked Dr Mark Ofua if he checked up on the animals he had released and whether he could track them. After a release, Dr Ofua goes back to site to check on the animals however, unfortunately the funding isn’t there in order for him to attach trackers to the animals.

Tracking is not only important for research into these animals but it also aids their protection. This is where you and I can help. I have set up a justgiving page to raise money for this crucial equipment.

If you can help, no matter how big or small please do so to help Dr Ofua in the amazing work that he does and to help the protection of these animals.

Not only is Dr Ofua a vetenarian who helps to save animals in his spare time, he also tries to educate local kids about animal rights πŸ‘ŒπŸ»πŸ‘ŒπŸ». What a guy. You can check him out on Instagram by clicking on this link.

Right… back to Mrs Pangolin. We headed back over to the bush to make sure she was ok and to our delight, we got back to where she was released just in time to see her clambering up a tree 😍.

Shortly after the seeing Mrs Pangolin make her break for freedom, Dr Ofua had a call about another animal in need of his assistance. This time it was a Python.

We swiftly made our way to the entrance of the Conservation Centre where the snake was waiting for him. The poor little guy was tangled up in a fishing line.

Dr Ofua quickly set to work, he made a secure bag to place the snake in (just out of what he could find) and slowly cut the snake free.

After the snake was securely in the bag I jokingly said, “you’ve done that before” to which Dr Ofua replied, ” I’m the snake man of Lagos, you can Google me!”

The penny suddenly dropped! This was the guy I had previously read about and been searching for on the internet when I was scrambling around to find someone to save the Pangolins! You can check out the BBC article about the Lagos Snake Man, here.

This truly was a humbling day. Seeing the work Dr Ofua and the NCF do is incredible and being witness to these endangered, beautiful animals being released back into the wild into a safe place was out of this world.

If you too enjoy seeing wildlife in it’s natural habitat and have a genuine interest in conservation then you should check out Lekki Conservation Centre, either for a visit or as a volunteer.

Please also check out their website. Here you can enquire on how to become a volunteer or even donate to aid the good work they do.

One of the stunning views in the centre.

The NCF who run Lekki Conservation Centre, was founded in 1980 by the late Chief S. L. Edu and it 1982 it was registered as a charitable trust.

The foundation has a vision of “a Nigeria where people prosper while living in harmony with nature.” After speaking with Adedamola Ogunsesan, a conservationist at the centre, it became apparent that this vision is as alive now as it was back in 1980.

For more photographs of the centre and some its inhabitants, please see the bottom of the article.

**Top Tips for visiting Lekki Conservation Centre**

  • Please be respectful. This is a conservation centre so please put all your litter in the bins provided.
  • Use reusable plastic bottle and straws. Not only will this help reduce rubbish at the centre but it will help reduce plastic in the Lagos area and on a wider scale.
  • Keep noise to a minimum. This area is home to many animals, it is not your home. Besides, the quieter you are, the better chance you have of spotting something in the wild.
  • I would advise going earlier in the day to beat the crowds…. and the traffic.

Please do all you can to help this precious planet and its inhabitants. We only get one shot! For those of you that have donated or given up your time to volunteer with the NCF, from the bottom of my heart, thank you ❀.

See you there.

Cat x

P.S. Please leave your comments at the bottom of the post or contact me directly for more details. Please help to share this article using the buttons at the bottom of this post, this will help to raise awareness and much needed cash for the trackers! Xx