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Why do mosquitoes bug us so much and how to prevent them this summer!
Keeping mosquitoes at bay this summer
Nothing ruins a good night's sleep more than being attacked by blood-thirsty mosquitoes. It's as if they assemble in formation around your bedroom in their battledress, watching you with a pair of binoculars, just waiting for you to doze off before they ambush! We've all fallen victim to their guerrilla tactics and Summer seems to be their favourite time of year for battle!
However, there is hope for a good night's rest! Understanding how mosquitoes operate can give you insight into outsmarting the next troop of devilish critters that invade your bedroom!
Why are mosquitoes more prevalent in Summer?
Most people will agree that we see a lot more mosquito activity during the months of Summer. Camping trips turn into combat as you do EVERYTHING to ward off mosquitoes and they still manage to track you down. Sleeping without a blanket seems like a good idea until they decide to hit-and-run. But why Summer?
In a nutshell, the answer is the weather. Mosquitoes are highly sensitive to their environment and factors like rainfall and temperature determine mosquito activity. Because they're cold-blooded (meaning they can't regulate their own body temperature), they're constantly seeking suitable environments. Mosquitoes require warm temperatures otherwise they die. Your bedroom is rather cosy, isn't it?
Mosquitoes also prefer areas where warm, standing water can be found because their larvae are entirely aquatic until they mature. Just like their elders, the larvae are sensitive to temperature and require a certain level of warmth in order to survive. Essentially, water temperatures are much warmer in Summer, therefore more larvae survive, which results in a larger mosquito population.
Why do mosquitoes bug us so much?
We live in a 'dog eat dog' world. If you look at the cycle of nature, basically every living thing lives off another living thing, right? Lions eat springbok.. Caterpillars eat leaves.. birds eat insects.. etc. While male mosquitoes eat flower nectar, female mosquitoes need to consume blood in order to develop and lay their eggs.
Blood contains protein and other nutritional benefits that are essential for female mosquitoes to produce healthy eggs. Although it may seem otherwise, we're not the only species that gets attacked by female mosquitoes. Seeing as they've already moved into our bedrooms (uninvited, I might add), we're a perfect and easy target for the expectant mozzie mothers!
Why do some get bitten more than others?
Have you ever woken up in the morning with itchy mosquito bites covering your arms and legs, while others are left unscathed? That's because there are certain factors that make some people more appealing to mosquitoes.
- Blood type
Seeing as mosquitoes consume our blood as a delicious protein meal, research shows that they find certain blood types more appetizing than others. Each blood type has a different makeup with varying components and just as humans prefer some foods over others, mosquitoes prefer some blood types over others! Certain experts claim that mosquitoes tend to prefer O blood type.
- Body odour
No, we're not talking about pungent underarms or smelly feet. Mosquitoes are attracted by multiple sensory cues that are emitted from our bodies, including lactic acid and carbon dioxide. People who breathe heavily emit more carbon dioxide, which is better detected by mosquitoes. If you exercise regularly, you produce more lactic acid, thus likely making you a more attractive meal.
- Skin bacteria
We all have microscopic ecosystems living on the surface of our skin. For the most part, the ecosystems are healthy and play a part in protecting us from infection. Studies have shown that the denser the bacterial population is, the more likely it is that you'll get bitten by mosquitoes. Scientists are unsure why mosquitoes are attracted to skin bacteria, but it explains why you often find bite marks around your ankles and feet!
How to prevent mosquitoes
We have a few ways to help you ward off those nasty little buggers this Summer. Remember that prevention is better than cure! Making your house an unfavourable environment for them to setup home in the first place is ideal and can prevent a lot of stress of getting rid of them once they've gotten comfortable.
- Don't leave water to stand
As mentioned previously, mosquitoes breed in warm, stagnant water. Make sure to change your vase water regularly and ensure you don't leave cups of water lying around. Without having perfect breeding grounds for them, they'll be forced to look elsewhere. Dams, ponds and lakes on your property are also a lovely maternity ward for mosquitoes, so be sure to introduce mosquito fish or introduce a small pump to keep the water moving.
Buckets of water and tanks of stored rainwater or grey water also make great places for mosquitoes to breed and hatch their larvae. If you are storing water, make sure that the tanks are sealed. Alternatively you can add a film of oil to float on the top of the water to stop mosquitoes from laying their eggs.
- Shake out and spray your curtains, bedding and cupboards
Remember those mosquitoes that assemble in formation around your bedroom in their battledress, watching you with a pair of binoculars, just waiting for you to doze off before they ambush? They're likely hiding among your clothing, linen, curtains, behind paintings or any clutter. Shake everything out regularly and spray these areas with natural insect repellents. Store-bought repellents often contain harmful chemicals that are toxic to the environment and your family. This eco-friendly insect repellent keeps insects away while being kind to both you and the environment! It leaves your space with a fresh aroma that's not harmful to you, to insects or the environment. You can also use a natural insect repellent directly on your body, especially on exposed areas, before you go to sleep.
You can even make your own insect repellent using organic essential oils that keep mozzies at bay. Citronella, Lemon and Lavender are three of many insect repellent essential oils. Browse our range of top essential oils and make your own blend!
Wishing everybody a pest-free Summer!
-Feelgood Health team