Us vs. Mosquitoes

The good news: of the over 3,000 species of mosquitoes, only a couple hundred bite us.

The bad news: the human-biting kinds of mosquitoes are everywhere.

Mosquitoes are a huge nuisance; always have been, always will be. This is why most of us have heard of folksy ways of repelling them, such as eating garlic or wearing light colours. You might have also heard that mosquitoes are especially attracted to pregnant women or certain blood types. None of this is true.

Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, heat, movement, and sweat; all of which we produce on a regular basis. Mosquitoes are also more likely to bite adult men than women or children - which makes sense, if you think about it. Men tend to be larger than either women or children, and larger animals breathe more (producing more carbon dioxide), make bigger movements, and give off more heat. An example, if you were really thirsty, which glass of water would you choose?

Mosquitoes don’t care about the colours you wear. They don’t care if you eat garlic or bananas or anything else. They aren’t more likely to bite you if you have type O blood. Mosquitoes will be attracted to you if you’re moving around a lot, breathing heavily, and sweaty.

Mosquito repellant. The most common mosquito repellant on the market today is DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). DEET has been in use for over 50 years and continues to be one of the very best mosquito repellants available. DEET has been approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, Health Canada, and the Canadian Paediatric Society. It has been deemed safe when used correctly on anyone over 2 months of age.

There are other effective repellants available, such as icaridin and permethrin. Icaridin is quite new and was only approved by Health Canada in 2012. There are few products in Canada containing icaridin. Permethrin is an effective repellant for use on clothing, but isn’t available in Canada yet.

Repellants that have been shown to be less effective include lemon eucalyptus oil, citronella, clove oil, and metofluthrin.

“Repellants” that have been revealed as basically useless include: citrosa plants, garlic, vitamin B12, ultrasonic emitting devices, and bug zappers.

There are several other measures you can take to keep the blood-munchers at bay.

For example:

  • Drain any nearby standing water, such as in plant pots or birdbaths.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, and shoes that fully cover your feet.
  • If you have a lawn, keep it short.
  • Stay inside at peak mosquito hours (dawn and dusk).
  • Bring an electric fan outside with you - mosquitoes don’t like flying in wind.

Apart from that, you can, y’know, stay inside with all the doors and windows closed as much as possible; and if you have to go outside, sit still and avoid any physical activity that could make you sweat or breathe hard.

We hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!

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