They are everywhere: on the beach, in the woods, on the balcony and sometimes even in your bedroom. Most people will definitely agree that one of the most annoying sounds of the world is the buzz of a mosquito. You can not totally avoid mosquito bites, but there are fortunately some ways to prevent and relieve them.
There is not much love between people and mosquitoes. As carriers of diseases, mosquitoes are the deadliest insects on Earth. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mosquitoes cause more than 1 million deaths every year. The majority of these deaths are due to malaria.
In Finland, mosquitoes can spread Pogosta disease, tularemia and brain inflammation caused by Inkoo virus.
Mosquitoes have existed over 200 million years and are found practically everywhere in the world. From the human point of view, they may not have a very reasonable function -they hiss, sting, irritate and spread dangerous diseases.
An important role in nature
However, in the natural ecosystem, mosquitoes play an important global role in pollinating plants.
They also have an important role in the food chain. Mosquito larvae are very important in aquatic ecology, since many other insects and small fish feed on them and the loss of that food source would cause their numbers to decline as well. Mosquitoes also serve as food for many species like birds, bats, insects and reptiles.
If you have the impression that there are many mosquitoes and they are everywhere, it is probably true. Reima Leinonen, an insect researcher at the Kainuu Center for Life, estimates that the total number of mosquitoes in Finland is more than 60,000 billions. The mosquito season reaches its peak on both sides of Midsummer, but there are enough mosquitoes for the whole summer.
Females take the blood
There is no equality in the world of mosquitoes. A male mosquito usually lives for about a week, a female with good luck more than fifty days. During his short life, the male spends the time enjoying the flower nectar, flocking and looking for mating opportunities.
A female has an important goal in her life: reproduction. And for this purpose, the females need blood. They use the proteins and iron found in blood to make their eggs. Females feed on nectar and water, just like males do.
One of the most annoying sounds in the Finnish summer is the mosquito buzzing sound. The sound is due to that the wings of mosquitoes strike really fast, several hundred times per second. The height and the volume level of the buzz are very important: a male knows that there is a suitable female for him.
How to prevent mosquito bite?
As a hairless and large animal, humans are the best and easiest victims for mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes sense human warmth, carbon dioxide and skin chemicals at a distance of tens of meters. Here are some tips how to prevent mosquitoes bites:
- Flailing your arms is a bad way to expel mosquitoes. It accelerates blood circulation and the production of carbon dioxide formed by breathing, which only strengthens the message of the proximity of the delicacy to the mosquito. In addition, mosquitoes have poor eyesight, but they detect movement easily and point towards it.
- Females lay eggs in standing water. To avoid that happening in your backyard, it is important to dry the small puddles. It is also worth to remember empty all kind of water containers, unless you want to grow mosquitoes yourself.
- If you don't want mosquitoes to bite you, it is important to dress properly. Covering and thick clothing will probably protect you most effectively.
- You can also buy a mosquitoes repellent that can be applied or sprayed onto the skin. The mosquito repellent with 15% of the DEET (diethyltoluamide) pesticide works best. For the balcony or backyard, you can buy mosquito coil, since the smoke is a good way to expel mosquitoes.
- Studies suggest that alcohol in the blood attracts mosquitoes, so it may be a good idea not to drink too much. Also, after drinking a few beers mosquitoes are no longer as well noticeable, so the victims can be injected by a larger group.
- One of the strangest ways to prevent mosquito injections is to listen to electronic music. An international group of scientists succeeded to reduce the activity of mosquitoes by playing them Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, by Skrillex. The mosquitoes that were exposed to the pounding of electronic music, mated and sucked blood less. The object of this music experiment was not any of the mosquitoes familiar to the Finns, but Aedes aegypti, a mosquito well known in the tropics that spreads dengue. However, it may be worth to try this method also with our domestic mosquitoes.
It is almost impossible to totally avoid mosquito bites, but fortunately there are ways to stop the itch. A mild one percent hydrocortisone relieves itching. It works for both adults and children and it can be bought in any pharmacy.
For those whose bites are inflamed, it might be helpful to try an ointment, that in addition to itching cortisone, has an antibiotic that relieves inflammation.
Itching itself is due to the mosquito releasing a blood thinning agent to humans. The substance helps in sucking blood because otherwise the blood begins to clot quickly.
The good news is that if mosquitoes bite you a lot in the early summer, the body gets used to the allergens of mosquito saliva and the bumps are reduced towards the end of the season.