Mosquitoes are very common in many areas, especially during the summer months. Mosquitoes prefer humid areas and tend to lay their eggs in shallow pools of water. Mosquitoes can reproduce very quickly. They’re most active around dawn or dusk. They are annoying when they bite you and leave an itch for days, but they are also a pain to hear buzzing around and also to avoid them getting in your food and drinks! There are more to mosquitoes than just being annoying, as they can actually carry real danger.
Most people know that mosquitoes can carry and transmit many types of diseases, and humans can become infected from a tiny mosquito bite with a serious illness or disease! Malaria is a serious mosquito-borne disease that can be found on almost every continent. Symptoms for malaria can vary, but some general signs of infection include fever, aches, coma, and even death!
Mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus (a virus found primarily in birds, but a mosquito can bite a bird and become a carrier for the virus), which has been common in North America the last few summers. This virus can be fatal as it can cause inflammation of the brain. This virus is very serious and has killed dozens of humans and thousands of birds over the last few years.
Other illnesses mosquitoes can commonly spread include Dengue fever, which is mostly in the tropics, Yellow Fever, found primarily in Africa and South America, and heartworm, which can cause cardiovascular problems and other health issues. Left untreated, any of these illnesses can progress and even result in death if serious enough.
There are a number of ways you can reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard or area. First and foremost, get rid of any unnecessary standing water. Keep all ponds, pools, birdbaths, and other water activities fresh and clean. Keep the pond stocked with plenty of fish such as bass that will eat mosquito larvae. You can also add some type of fountain to keep the water moving, which will discourage mosquitoes from laying their eggs. Be sure to routinely dump water out of buckets, toys, old tires, discarded plastic bags and other objects, roof gutters, and anything else that might catch rain or water and sit around for a while.
Of course, if your neighbors allow standing water and such to gather in their yard, you might still have issues with the mosquito pests, since they can travel about a mile. If you have problems with mosquitoes breeding in the neighbors yards, you might want to kindly mention it to them. After all, they might not be aware of the ideal breeding conditions they’re creating for these pesky insects.
Another helpful tip for reducing unwanted mosquito visitors is to use bug sprays, repellents, traps, etc. Sprays and repellents are somewhat controversial as they often contain DEET and other questionable ingredients, but most agree if you use in moderation and not many days in a row they are fairly safe. If you’re going to be outdoors for any length of time, it’s not recommended to wear any perfumes or strong-scented shampoos or detergents, for example, as these tend to attract insects. Opt for unscented products when possible. Citronella, the active component of lemongrass, is supposed to act as a natural repellent for mosquitoes, but I’ve never had incredible success with this method. Some claim other essential oils, such as vanilla or peppermint, are also natural repellents. Perhaps it’s worth a try?
Also, when planning on staying outside for a few hours, it’s advised to cover up as much as comfortably possible. For example, wear long sleeves, socks, and pants rather than having more skin revealed to avoid as much exposure to the insects as possible.
There are many things you can do to lessen the chances you’ll be bitten by mosquitoes. It’s scary to think such a tiny insect can cause many different serious illnesses, and even death!, but, if you are smart about your outdoor activities and aware of the risks and facts, summer cookouts and parties can be tons of fun without tons of worry. Have a great summer!