What Can You Do Against Mosquitoes?
Originally, the warnings about disease-carrying mosquitoes mostly applied to travels to warmer, tropical areas, like the Bahamas. With the increase in hot temperatures due to global warming, more and more countries become home to potentially dangerous insects.
Learn here, how to protect yourself from mosquitos and their bites.
The Danger of Mosquito Bites
While the itchy rashes caused by bites are a hassle, they are not the thing we should worry about most when it comes to protecting ourselves from these insects.
When a mosquito bites us, its saliva is transferred to the host to keep our blood from coagulating, which allows the insect to feed from it more easily.
Because a mosquito also ingests some of its former host’s pathogens at the same time, it can transfer them during this process.
This process makes mosquitos important vectors in the spread of parasitic and arboviral diseases, such as:
West Nile Fever
Because they can infect humans with these diseases by biting them, mosquitoes cause more deaths a year than any other type of animal.
The Influence of Temperature on the Danger of Mosquito Bites
Areas, in which this danger is the most prevalent, are usually found in warm and moist regions, like the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and Southern Central Asia.
Mosquitoes spread these diseases faster in warmer countries, because:
their population grows faster
the incubation time of diseases while carried by mosquitos is shorter, making them ready to infect another person in shorter intervals from bite to bite.
However, there is a delicate balance between the temperature, the mosquito’s life span, and the incubation time of a virus.
When the temperature is low, it takes longer for the virus to incubate. The mosquito might die before the disease is ready to infect the next person.
Once the temperature rises, the incubation time shortens, and a mosquito can infect multiple people in their life span.
The higher the temperature rises, the shorter a mosquito lives. If it is too warm, the incubation time might be perfect for the fast spread of diseases, but the mosquito’s lifespan might once more be too short to transmit the disease to many people or animals.
That’s why regions that have previously been too mild to give the viruses a short incubation period and the mosquitos a longer life span are now in danger to give these diseases the perfect conditions for a fast spread.
In areas like the Southern US, this means the transmission season for mosquito-carried diseases might now reach from spring to fall, or even all year round.
Methods of Protection Against Mosquitos
Developments like this make it necessary to protect ourselves from mosquito bites more efficiently, even when we aren’t traveling to the previous danger zones. There are several steps we can take to protect ourselves:
Protecting Your Home
Manufacturers like Bambulah give us great tools to protect our homes and stationary locations from mosquitos. They offer a great variety of beautiful and functional mosquito nets.
Their large square mosquito nets can be used to cover beds to protect us from bites when we sleep at night.
Alternatively, the spacious and decorative nets are a great solution to cover outdoor eating or sitting areas. This way, we are protected during activities like eating, when the smell of food attracts mosquitoes even more.
Similarly, mosquito nets can be used in a variety of ways to cover window and door openings and keep our home insect free.
We should also make sure to reduce the amount of standing water in and surrounding our home.
When we are outside in an area with many mosquitos, (next to the water and during full moons) we can dress accordingly. Long-sleeved and loose-fitting garments are a great first step. If the textile is too snug, mosquitos can bite through the clothing.
Any part of your body that is covered increases your level of protection. Light textiles, such as linen, help you stay cool.
Additionally, you can buy fabrics pre-treated with pesticides or buy spray-on pesticides for textiles to apply to your own clothing. The latter should never be directly applied to the skin.
Mosquitos are attracted more to some people entirely based on genetics and blood type, like type O. However, some habits can increase your attraction to insects regardless.
The smell of sweat is one factor that will make you more likely to get bitten. The same applies to drinking beer.
Frequent showers help you stay bite free.
The most effective repellents are chemical in nature. They include:
DEET – marketed as Repel, Off! Deep Woods, Cutter Skinsations, and more
Picaridin (also labeled as KBR 3023 or Icaridin) – marketed as Natrapel, or Sawyer
Products containing DEET are considered the most effective kind of repellent.
They are completely safe to use for most people if used as directed. Some people, like pregnant women, babies, and small children, however, should not use these kinds of repellents carelessly.
Safer to use for children and more eco-friendly are biopesticides and natural repellents. This applies to:
Para-Menthan-3,8-diol (PMD) – a plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus (BEWARE: this does not include regular essential oils) – marketed as Repel, BugShield, or Cutter
2-undecanone – marketed as Bite Blocker BioUD
3-[N-butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester (IR3535) – marketed as Merck
Some studies have shown that commercial products that were not originally intended to repel bugs had similar effects. These include Avon Skin So Soft bath oil and the Victoria's Secret Bombshell fragrance.
Avon Skin So Soft bath oil reduced the attraction of mosquitos compared to a control group by half at the initial time point and still showed a significant effect at 120 minutes, and none at 240 minutes.
Victoria’s Secret Bombshell repelled mosquitos most effectively 120 minutes post-application and still reduced the attraction rate of the control group by half at 240 minutes.
However, experts still advise using regular mosquito repellents for more effective protection.
Protection from mosquito bites is increasingly important, even in areas that have previously not been considered dangerous regions for the spread of several mosquito-carried diseases. The effects of global warming are widening the areas and time periods with the highest infection rates.
Many strategies can protect us from bites. For stationary protection, mosquito nets can keep our home and sleeping area insect free. Pesticides or mosquito repellents can increase the protection of nets, clothing, and skin. When we are in areas with many mosquitos, long lose protective linen clothing is a good solution. Additionally, an increase in personal hygiene is important.