Wednesday, 6 May 2015
Summer Breeze…makes me feel fine (a beautiful song by Seals and Crofts)
Indeed, it’s a time to enjoy the outdoors – biking, picnics, BBQ – however, whilst soaking in the sun, we are also exposing ourselves to getting bitten by a bloodsucking mosquito. You are trying to enjoy a garden party but you can’t really as a swarm of mosquitoes follow you from grill to poolside.
So, why do mosquitoes prefer to bite some people over others?
Genetics accounts for a whopping 85% of our susceptibility to mosquito bites. Scientists have also determined that people with high concentrations of cholesterol on their skin surface attract mosquitoes. Bloodsucking mosquitoes also tend to attack people with excess amounts of certain acids, such as uric acid and lactic acid. These substances can trigger a mosquito, luring it to land on an unsuspecting victim. Mosquitoes can smell their “dinner” from an impressive distance of up to 50 meters, which is bad news for people who emit large quantities of carbon dioxide. Bigger sized people do.
Female mosquitoes – males are not the biters – need the protein in human blood to develop fertile eggs. There are 3,000 species of mosquitoes all of which transmit diseases, be it Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, Malaria, Yellow Fever, etc. Mosquitoes have been around for 170 million years and they clearly aren’t going to disappear anytime soon, if ever.
Since there is no vaccine against mosquito related diseases your best defence is prevention, in order to minimize its impact.
Deet is the most effective chemical used in repellants. Repellants containing Deet protect wearers for about five hours. However, if you wish to avoid chemical-based repellants, a few alternatives exist, such as; eucalyptus oil, citronella, lemongrass, etc.
If you want to avoid chemical-based repellents altogether, a few promising alternatives do exist.
Electronic Insect Killers work by attracting mosquitoes to its UVA light, where the nasty pests get electrocuted. When placed strategically near breeding spots, the mosquito traps have knocked populations down!
Other corrective measures include eliminating stagnant water, which serves as an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Clogged gutters, garbage cans, old tyres, bird baths and rain barrels are some of the biggest neighbourhood breeding grounds.
A mosquito bite means much more than simple itching. For some, it can cause severe allergic reactions. Then, there’s the danger of mosquito transmitted illnesses. The tiny mosquito is able enough to kill a million people worldwide every year.
Our fight with mosquitoes is a never-ending mainly because the age-old mosquito is adaptable and renews itself every generation.