Today, Tuesday, August 20, is World Mosquito Day. On this day, we raise awareness of the importance of mosquito control and increase awareness of all ways to avoid mosquito bites and ward off mosquitos. World Mosquito Day was originated in 1897 by Dr. Ronald Ross of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. It was created when Ross found that the malaria parasite could be spread and transmitted by the mosquito.
Since it’s inception, World Mosquito Day has been used as an opportunity for organizations like The American Mosquito Control Association to spread valuable information on public health and safety in regards to these blood-sucking insects. There are an estimated 350-500 million cases of malaria that occur worldwide each year and mosquitos are one of the largest carriers. It’s important to do everything necessary to keep these pests from biting not only you but your family pets.
Avoid Mosquito Hotspots
Protect yourself by avoiding areas that are heavily populated by mosquitos. One way to do this when traveling is to check whether mosquito-borne diseases are prevalent in your vacation spot of choice. It’s easy to find this information online. Google the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization. Both of these organizations have this information on their sites. If you find that it’s impossible to avoid this place, make sure that you pack insect repellent specifically targeted toward warding off mosquitos. Then, once you’re home, use mosquito prevention methods for at least three weeks to ensure you don’t potentially spread the virus to uninfected mosquitos.
Rub On DEET or Go Natural
Insect repellent is your best bet to ward off mosquitos. You can buy a mosquito repellent from your local supermarket or pharmacy. Make sure that you apply it to any exposed area od the skin. Repellents that include DEET, or N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, are the most common. DEET when applied correctly, forms a vapor barrier at the skin’s surface that keeps mosquitos from landing on your skin. But, if you’re are allergic there are a multitude of other options. Picaridin, IR3535, OLE, PMD, and 2undecanone are all options that are just as effective as DEET.
Wear The Right Clothes
According to entomologists from the University of Florida at Vero Beach, “mosquitos will rely on their vision to find hosts, especially later in the day.” They determined that dark-colored clothing (black, navy, blue, and red), as well as movement, can make it easier for these bloodsuckers to find you. Wear light colors while you’re outside, which will not only deter mosquitos but help you feel cooler by reflecting sunlight.
Part of wearing the right clothes is also to purchase pre-treated gear or send your clothes to be treated. Permethrin is used in bug-resistant apparel and is helpful for anyone who might be too busy to remember to spray themselves. Additionally, thin, lightweight materials and spandex can be easily bitten through. Cover as much skin as possible with tightly woven materials. These are more difficult for bugs to penetrate.
Mosquitos also have a sense of smell that allows them to easily detect humans. Besides sight, scent is one of the primary indicators that mosquitos use to identify and locate their prey. Bacteria that combines with sweat creates a smell that is irresistible to these thirsty blood-suckers, particularly those that carry malaria. Body odor is also particularly attractive because it often comes with a build of lactic acid caused by activity. Wash regularly, and you’ll remove this easily detectable scent and make it so that mosquitos have a more difficult time finding you. Avoid certain scents of perfume, soaps, shampoos, and lotions as they can also draw mosquitos in your way. This is especially true for floral or sweet smells because mosquitos prefer to feed on flowers when they aren’t reproducing.
Keep Air Circulated
Mosquitos are not particularly adept at flying, which is why they tend to strike at night when there is less wind. This means that you can keep them away by simply turning on a fan. Placing a fan on the floor or on a table is the way to get maximum effectiveness. By circulating the air around you, you can keep mosquitos from biting you. “Almost any breeze — anything above 1MPH – makes it very difficult for mosquitos to fly,” says Jonathan Day, a mosquito expert and professor of medical entomology from the University of Florida. If you can’t afford to buy a fan specifically to deter these pests, pick a breezy spot for your summer outing.
Plant to Repel Mosquitos
One of the best and easiest ways to deter mosquitos is to plant herbs that naturally deter these insects from invading your yard and your space. Eucalyptus, catnip, peppermint, lemongrass, marigolds, garlic, lavender, and basil are all known mosquito repellents and excellent companion plants for your garden. (And of course, for all of your planting needs, consider Top Soil Pros.)
This World Mosquito Day (and year-round), it’s important to know all fo the tips and tricks to keep these blood-suckers at bay. They carry a multitude of diseases that can be particularly fatal and the symptoms can range from mild to undetectable.