Pest of the Month: The Mosquito — How to Protect yourself from the World’s Most Dangerous Insect
By: Rita Stadler
Some people like to joke that the mosquito is their state bird, but there isn’t anything funny about Aedes aegypti. While there are many different kinds of mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti is the one that most commonly transmits dangerous, sometimes deadly diseases to people. This little bug can be a big problem, but a few simple DIY pest control tips can help protect against disease and prevent mosquito bites.
What makes mosquitoes so dangerous?
Aedes aegypti can spread many diseases to people like dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika and yellow fever. Most of these illnesses cannot be cured, and are sometimes fatal. Zika has been especially concerning this year due to the serious complications for babies born to women infected by the virus.
Mosquitoes are everywhere in the world except Antarctica. Their small size makes it easy for them to get inside anywhere, and makes it hard to fight them off. Like other common pests, they breed quickly and in large numbers.
Why are mosquitoes attracted to you?
Not all mosquitoes are bloodsuckers. Only females that are about to lay eggs bite people. Otherwise, a mosquito’s main food source is nectar from flowers.
When mama mosquitoes are looking for a meal, they use their senses to find a suitable source. The scent of the carbon dioxide people exhale can be detected by a mosquito 50 yards away. Pregnant women and people who are active or exercising exhale more CO2 than anyone else. Mosquitoes are also attracted to body heat, and the lactic acid produced by your body when you sweat. They can see movement, and differentiate between light and dark colors.
What’s the best way to prevent mosquito bites?
Some pest control methods rely on harmful chemicals, and some products just don’t work at all. To protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites, we’ve put together a few easy DIY mosquito control measures you can use around your home:
- Get rid of standing water where mosquitoes breed. Don’t overlook little things like tire swings, bird feeders, and potted plants.
- Wear light colored clothing; cover up with long sleeves and pants if possible.
- Avoid drinking beer, at least when you’re outside — mosquitoes are more attracted to beer drinkers.
For the best protection against mosquitoes, follow CDC and EPA advice when choosing an insect repellent. The main ingredients that have been proven to prevent mosquito bites are: DEET, lemon eucalyptus oil, picardin, and IR3535. Stay Away® Mosquitoes is a skin-friendly insect repellent that provides proven protection for up to 14 hours.