Mosquito Control 101: Don’t be a mosquito attractant this summer
Ants at a picnic? They just want everything on the menu. For mosquitoes, you are the menu. And if skeeters have a favorite time of the year, it’s summer break, all those bare arms and legs slowly marinating in suntan oil. Let the ants have the potato salad; the mosquitoes want sushi!
Mosquitoes use their antenna to seek out hot targets putting out carbon dioxide (CO2) the stuff we exhale. If you’re huffing and puffing around the back yard, playing with the kids or flipping burgers on the grill, you’re especially appealing. So if you want off the mosquito radar, hold your breath or find them a meal replacement – more on that later!
The little blood suckers are also attracted to chemicals in our sweat. In fact scientists have discovered that 1 in 10 people are highly attractive to mosquitoes and that genetics account for a staggering 85% of our susceptibility to mosquito bites. They’ve also discovered that certain elements of our body chemistry, that when found in excess on the skin’s surface, make mosquitoes swarm closer. For instance mosquitoes can detect and are attracted to cholesterol – wait ‘til the pharmaceuticals figure out they have a secondary market for their cholesterol drugs! And like butterflies, they are attracted to bright colors. Hence the advice to wear light colored clothing.
The mosquito’s bite; actually it’s not a bite – mosquitoes don’t have teeth! Instead they use their nose. It’s called a proboscis, and it’s serrated like a knife. It pierces the skin and through one tube it injects saliva to numb the area and keep the blood from clotting. And through the other it sucks blood like root beer through a straw. Yum!
It doesn’t take much — between 0.001 and 0.01 milliliters – so we probably wouldn’t even miss it if it weren’t for that annoying, itchy bump that comes up after a mosquito bite. It’s an allergic reaction that usually goes away in a day or so, but will drive you bonkers and to the medicine chest until it does
Mosquitoes prefer to schedule their feasts during dusk and early evening. So that’s when you may find yourself swatting helplessly at dive-bombing mosquitoes. That’s no way to enjoy a barbeque with your friends and family – you’ve invited them over for a meal, not to be the main course! So to avoid attracting mosquitoes like a magnet you need to offer up a viable meal replacement.
Mosquito traps that take advantage of mosquitoes’ sensory abilities by tricking them with features that mimic the smells and visual stimuli associated with people is what you need. The idea is to make the machine more attractive to a mosquito than a human by emitting CO2, octenol, heat, or light – or a combination of those to lure mosquitoes in. The mosquitoes come in to check out the prospective meal, get sucked in by the fan then trapped in a container where they die. A great way to get rid of mosquitoes from your yard.
Further DIY mosquito control measures should also include wearing loose long pants and long sleeves to help deter the biters. Repellants, especially those with DEET, can cut down on the attacks. And some people swear by citronella sprays, candles and incense.
Mosquito squatters love a place that is out of sight, out of mind. Take in the welcome mat by depriving skeeters of their favorite places like standing water, which can become potential mosquito nurseries. It doesn’t take much, an inch or two that has collected in a child’s toy, a flowerpot, an old tire. Stagnant pools, birdbaths and fountains are another mosquito favorite. Females lay their eggs every three days in standing water and they’re not particular where. So don’t forget to clear out the rain gutters too. They’re also fond of tall grass and soggy mulch. Keep the grass cut short and the mulch turned, especially after heavy rain.
The female mosquito is a deadly blood-seeking machine and some species are known to fly as far as 50 miles to get their blood meal. Fortunately she only lives between two to four weeks. Male mosquitoes on the other hand live about a week and feed on fruit and plant nectar. But it’s all about passing on their DNA, so they seek out females, attracted by the sound of their wings. They mate just once. The female will continue to lay eggs after every blood meal, producing hundreds of eggs during her lifetime.
So they live a short life filled with quiet desperation. Well, ok, maybe not.
There are several ways to shorten the life span of a mosquito. There’s nothing like a well-placed swat or slap - seeing the bloody, squished body of a mosquito on the palm of your hand, has its own special satisfaction (until you realize that it’s your blood.)
But a good mosquito trap is probably the most effective solution for an open space like a back yard. Mega-Catch™ mosquito traps are among the highest rated traps on the market. And in independent testing (PPT), Mega-Catch™ mosquito traps have been shown to capture thousands of mosquitoes in a single night. That will take the bite out of any mosquito’s forthcoming sushi party!