What’s good about mosquitoes:
It’s tough to come up with anything nice to say about them — in fact the only thing mosquitoes have going for them is that they’re a food source for species on the lower end of the food chain.
What’s bad about mosquitoes:
- They are the deadliest creature in existence — you might fear tigers, crocodiles and snakes, but mosquitoes are far deadlier. They are principally responsible for the spread of malaria, West Nile virus, dengue fever and yellow fever through human populations. Malaria alone takes more than one million lives each year.
- They’re not pet friendly, either — mosquitoes also spread diseases that are deadly to other species, including heartworms, which can be lethal to dogs.
- They will attack you relentlessly — these little vampires are out for blood, and will consume up to 3x their weight of it. That said, only females bite; males feed primarily on fruit and plant nectar.
- They’ll poison you — when biting, mosquitoes pump saliva into your skin that contains an allergen, which causes the bumpiness and itchiness characteristic of mosquito bites.
- And, of course, they’re just so annoying.
What we’re up against:
There are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes — though fewer than 200 species are found in the United States.
- Prolific breeding: Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time and will lay eggs up to three times before they die.
- Insatiable appetites: Mosquitoes feed day and night — some are daytime biters, others start biting at dusk and continue a few hours into dark.
- Amazing Persistence: Waiting for winter to arrive only provides a brief respite from mosquitoes. The adult females of some species actually hibernate — just waiting for warmer weather and the opportunity to plaque the world. Additionally, some species die after laying their eggs in freezing water — with a whole new generation hatching with the onset of warmer weather.
How to avoid mosquitoes:
For such a small organism, mosquitoes are equipped with a lot of complex systems to locate their next meal. To escape their detection:
- Don’t breathe: Receptors on their antennae can detect the carbon dioxide released when we exhale from up to 75 feet away.
- Don’t sweat: They discern the presence of octenol, a chemical released in human sweat.
- Stay cool: Heat sensors around the mosquito’s mouth can detect the warmth of your body – and help them locate the best capillaries for tapping.
Since you can’t hold your breath forever, you should know that nature produces a number of natural, effective insect repellents. In fact, the repellent used in Thermacell products is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in chrysanthemum flowers. It won’t harm humans or pets — and tests by universities and government agencies have shown Thermacell is up to 96% effective in repelling mosquitoes.