A Mosquito Life
Mosquitoes mate from Spring to Fall, where the male dies soon after. It’s the female that lives on, seeking blood meals, and lays hundreds of eggs in her lifetime. These eggs are laid in calm water, and cool damp places, where they hatch within days as larvae. They feed on bacteria in the water, and often times, other larvae. Soon, these little critters grow legs and wings, and off they go as adult mosquitoes. Again, it’s the females that go on to seek warm hosts and are attracted by odors from breath or skin. Humans make particularly enticing victims, since we have such a delectable array of compounds in our breath and sweat glands.
Living in the Southwest, we are more susceptible to the West Nile Virus (WNV) through mosquito bites than anywhere in the U.S., and now the threat of the Zika Virus is growing. We CAN do something about it, however.
REPORT ANY DEAD BIRDS TO YOUR NEAREST HEALTH AGENCY. They may have contracted WNV!
Monitor and Inspect your home for any areas that may be a habitat for mosquitoes. Covering these areas, or eliminating them entirely, can be a big step in keeping mosquitoes away.
- Tightly secure water storage containers such as cisterns, water tanks or septic tanks.
- Keep rain gutters clear of debris.
- Clean water pans in swamp coolers regularly.
- Empty and clean birdbaths and wading pools regularly.
- Maintain and chlorinate swimming pools regularly.
- Stock yard ponds with gold fish or mosquito fish, which feed on the insects’ eggs, larvae and pupae.
- Empty or discard unused flower pots, buckets, cans, tires and other objects that trap water.
- Clean the vegetation and debris from nearby irrigation channels.
Wear clothes (I know, bummer), but mosquitoes can’t detect your odors through the material. Choose light colors, but not flora print where heavy infestation may be present. Keep in mind, they like ankles and wrists…places that are usually exposed, even when wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts. Avoid perfumes and scented shampoos.
Wear repellants, and follow the directions. DEET, a synthetic product that blocks what mosquito antennae receptors are seeking, has had a bad rap, but it has a pretty good track record, too. Anything over 30 – 35, however, is not necessary. The application will last about 2 hours, where you should continue applying it when out in an infested area. I don’t recommend applying it on children under 2 years of age. Again, read the labels and never use a DEET product over a 10, for children, and especially where there are cuts or scrapes on the skin. Be sure to wash clothes and skin after use.
The preventative approach is always best when it comes to surviving mosquitoes. You and your family will also enjoy the outdoors more, be pro-active in your health, and making another positive step toward a Lifestyle in Sustainability!