Mosquitoes are the ultimate summertime pest. There are at least at least 170 species of mosquito in North America but only a couple are known to feed on human blood. This includes the Culex genus, aka the common house mosquito. The mosquito isn’t just the most annoying pest in the American landscape, it’s also a vector for diseases such as West Nile virus and Japanese encephalitis. Proximity to stagnant water increases your chances of being bitten. Although mosquitoes are generally attracted to body heat and carbon dioxide, studies have shown that other factors such as blood type and the presence of naturally occurring bacteria on skin can make some people more appetizing to these blood-sucking pests than others. Additionally, dark colored clothing and perfume have been known to attract Culex mosquitoes.
Only female mosquitoes suck human blood, while males feed on plant nectars. After digesting the blood meal, she will seek out a body of still water in which to lay eggs. Mosquitoes are able to breed in any form of stagnant water. Females lay eggs in “rafts” of as many as 300 on the water’s surface.
Mosquito prevention starts with removing areas of standing water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water where the larvae develop, so it is important to empty containers such as empty tires and flowerpots, pool covers and baby pools after a rainstorm. Water in birdbaths should be regularly changed as well.
Most types of mosquitoes are active around dusk and dawn. If you have to be outside during those times, wear long sleeves, long pants and insect repellent to protect your skin. A small fan at outdoor may also reduce mosquitoes as they are not strong flyers. It is especially important to wear effective insect repellents and protective clothing if traveling outside the U.S. as mosquito-borne diseases that may be rare in the U.S. are common in many foreign countries.
Most counties have a mosquito abatement program in place to minimize the local population and help keep the public safe. These programs typically involve trapping mosquitoes in different areas and testing them for known pathogens. This helps monitor the spread of diseases and warn the public of risks in the area. County programs may also include plans for periodic spraying or fogging to eliminate adult mosquitoes.
Culex mosquitoes are known for causing itchy, red spots on your body from their bite. This bodily reaction to mosquito bites is caused by the mosquito’s saliva, which they inject into the skin in order to keep the blood from clotting while they feed. There are a few things you can do to help relieve the symptoms of a mosquito bite:
- Apply over the counter ointments and creams directly to the bite
- Clean the bite with soap and water to prevent infections
- Apply ice to temporarily relieve swelling and itching sensation
- If you experience headaches, fever or body aches, be sure to contact a medical professional immediately.
Most people have a minor reaction to a mosquito bite, but for some, the reaction may be severe. If you start to become nauseous, have chills or trouble breathing, it is important to contact a medical professional immediately.
While it is impossible to eliminate mosquitos from the environment entirely, our technicians can initiate a fogging program which will drastically reduce the amount of bother you experience from these insects. Call us at the beginning of mosquito season (late May, early April) and enjoy the benefits all summer long!