(Guest Post from our friends at training site Educare, Random Subjects Made Simple – Are you a Mosquito Magnet?),
Monday, June 10th, 2013
Just as the weather is warm enough to consider scraping the rust off the barbecue, a very familiar buzzing sound comes to life.
Mosquitoes are a pain – literally. But beyond the swollen red lump and maddeningly incessant itch, mosquitoes are carriers, or vectors, for some of the world’s most deadly diseases. They cause millions of deaths worldwide from malaria, elephantiasis, encephalitis, dengue and yellow fever, and West Nile virus, to name a few.
Closer to home, our relatively innocuous mosquito can live for a week to over four months. Only the female of the species has the necessary mouth parts to suck blood. They stab two tubes into the skin – one to inject an enzyme that stops blood clotting and the other to suck blood into their bodies. They don’t use the blood as food for themselves, but as a source of protein for their developing eggs. For food, both male and female mosquitoes eat flower nectar, juices and decaying matter.
Actually, mosquitoes far prefer cattle and horses to you, but they do seem particularly drawn to some people. To lessen the likelihood of getting bitten wear earth tones, khaki or clothes of a neutral colour with long sleeves (although they can bite through thin material). Also, stay as cool as possible. They are like heat-seeking missiles and when you are hot or have been exercising, you give off carbon dioxide and lactic acid, both of which attract them. It’s a double whammy because they also love the moisture given off by perspiration, both for the chemicals it contains and the extra humidity it creates around your body. And remember, we mentioned that mosquitoes feed on flower nectar, so don’t smell like one – avoid all perfumed products, especially floral ones.
Mosquitoes need standing water to reproduce so ensure you are not harbouring any in pots or wheelbarrows around the garden. When you consider each female mosquito lays between 100 to 300 eggs at a time and averages 1,000 to 3,000 during its short life, that’s a lot of potential aggravation.
Mike, an esteemed member of the EduCare team, suggests an effective deterrent is eating Marmite and drinking gin and tonic. Apparently they don’t like the smell of Marmite and it’s the quinine in the tonic water that does the trick. We’re not sure about that, but if you give it a go, let us know.
Image credit: Aedes albopictus cdc by James Gathany, CDC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons