We’ve had plenty of rain this year, and that offers many great breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Weighing only 1/25,000th of an ounce and living just two weeks, mosquitoes can be a disproportionate source of problems and irritation for people in the workplace.
Only female mosquitoes bite humans—the male mosquito does not bite. Females need the high protein from blood to make eggs. Once bitten, the body’s immune system reacts to her saliva proteins, causing swelling and itching at the skin site, usually lasting only a couple of days.
The female mosquito lays 400 eggs in rafts on the surface of the water or near the water line. These eggs can survive years before hatching.
Prevention of mosquito bites should be our goal—this helps decrease transmission of West Nile virus, dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever and encephalitis. DEET is very effective as a repellent, and a five to 10 percent DEET concentration is just as effective as 90 percent, but 10 percent must be applied more frequently. In general, a 25 percent DEET concentration will give about five hours of mosquito repellent. Caution should always be followed when applying to children—always read instructions.
Home remedies for treating the itch and swelling of mosquito bites are many, consisting of cool compresses, Benadryl, ibuprofen, and anti-itch compounds, such as a baking soda and water paste. Others include Calamine (the pink stuff), Caladryl and hydrocortisone.
Take the Mosquito Fact/Myth Quiz:
- Mosquitos are responsible for more human deaths than any other non-human living creature. Fact. The majority of these deaths occur in third-world countries. In the U.S., it is statistically more likely that you will die from a car accident, violent crime or heart attack than from contracting a disease from a mosquito.
- Eating garlic or taking vitamin B1 can act as a mosquito repellent. Myth. There is scent emitted from skin pores, but mosquitoes are attracted by the carbon dioxide, heat and moisture from our breath.
- Avon’s Skin-So-Soft lotion is effective in repelling mosquitoes. Fact. Studies have shown that it is effective for about two hours.
- Purple Martins eat their weight in mosquitoes each day. Myth. Mosquitoes make up a small portion of a martin’s diet—they prefer larger insects.
- Mosquitoes rarely travel farther than 300 feet from their birthplace. Fact. This is the primary reason that controlling the breeding area works in controlling the spread of disease.
- Putting DEET under your clothes gives longer protection from bites. Myth. DEET should only be put on exposed skin and not covered by clothes. This can cause side effects.
- Papaverine, found in meat tenderizer and papaya fruit, can relieve the pain and itching of mosquito bites. Fact.
- Citrosa and marigolds can be effective plants to repel mosquitoes. Myth. Citronella oil has been shown to be an effective repellent, but there’s no evidence that plants are effective. The concentration of citronella oil is not high enough in a plant, unless it is damaged, to release the oil. iBi