It’s not only you who’s excited about summer and the barbecue parties it entails, but mosquitoes are also waiting to suck down sumptuously once they get the opportunity to attack. After they strike, mosquitoes leave red welts accompanied by irritating itchiness. But have you ever wondered why their bites itch?
First, let’s establish that their bite is not actually a ‘bite’. Instead, mosquitoes pierce or puncture the human skin using their sharp tube-like mouth called a proboscis, allowing them to drink fluid. Once they drill through the skin’s surface, mosquitoes leave their saliva. It functions as an anticoagulant agent, enabling them to drink blood smoothly.
However, the proteins from mosquitoes’ saliva is a foreign substance to the human body. Therefore, it activates the immune system and elicits a mild allergic reaction. The body releases histamine and bombards the intruders on the area of the ‘bite.’ A build-up of histamine occurs, leading to the swelling of the blood vessels. Thus, a red welt forms. As the blood vessels continue to stretch, it disturbs the nerves and causes the annoying itching sensation.
But, it is not only their unbearably itchy bites that you should be careful of. Mosquitoes are a known carrier of various diseases, such as Malaria, Chikungunya, Zika, and the West Nile virus. The said conditions can be severe and some of which can be fatal.
With that, it is imperative to prevent mosquito bites in the first place. Fortunately, there are lots of ways you could do to keep them from biting.
Blow them with air.
Any breeze that is over 1 mile per hour can deter mosquitoes from flying. Use oscillating fans and direct the breeze at the lower half of your body. Mosquitoes are low and short-distance flyers, so the fan’s downward force is ample to put off their approach. However, if you’re going for a summer outing, look for a breezy area, to keep mosquitoes from biting.
Avoid peak hours of mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes tend to attack around dusk and dawn. They tend to hide in shaded areas during peak daylight as intense sunlight can quickly dehydrate and kill them. Moreover, the wind usually quells when the sun rises or sets, making it an ideal time for mosquitoes to look for their meal. If possible, stay inside your home during the times when they are most active to prevent mosquito bites.
Keep mosquitoes outside.
Install screens on your air conditioning and windows to block mosquitoes from slipping in. Alternatively, you could also use a fine mosquito net and hang it on your baby’s crib or your bed. Some mosquito nets are treated with insect repellent, perfect for camping and vacation activities.
Add plants that can deter mosquitoes.
As an added defense, you can use certain plants to dissuade mosquitoes from lurking into your home. You can choose from an array of plants, such as citronella, lemongrass, lavender, basil, and marigolds. Be mindful, though, that they shouldn’t be your only shield. While these plants may help, their potency is not ample enough to keep them from your yard completely.
Wear light-colored, tightly-woven clothes.
Apparently, mosquitoes and other bugs are attracted to dark colors as they absorb heat compared to lighter colors that reflect heat. Due to their intricate and sensitive heat sensors, mosquitoes are attracted to darker clothes, where heat is more abundant. Meanwhile, mosquitoes find it difficult to penetrate clothing with very tight weaves. Such type of clothes serves as great armor from mosquito bites.
Dump stagnant waters in your home.
Mosquitoes are fast breeders and can do so within 14 days by just taking a minute in a rain gutter, birdbath, or old pot. Make sure to check them from time to time for mosquito larvae and drain them if necessary. If you have a pond, add minnows and guppies that chow down mosquito larvae. Adding a fountain or waterfall can also help to keep the water flowing.
Apply DEET when heading outdoors.
DEET or N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide is an active ingredient common on insect repellent. It is applied on the skin and serves as an effective armor against mosquitoes, and other biting insects, such as fleas, ticks, and chiggers. However, safety is still a concern on this product as it is still considered as a strong chemical, which may have side effects in high concentrations. Some common alternatives for DEET are picaridin, para-menthane-diol, and lemon eucalyptus oil.
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