It’s summertime in the Lake Travis area when uninvited guests start crashing your backyard barbecues — and we don’t mean those annoying neighbors that play their music too loud after 10 p.m. We’re talking about bloodsuckers of the winged variety. Mosquitoes.
As you probably remember from last spring, the rain and wet weather brings us more than just a full Lake Travis. It brings lots and lots of mosquitoes. To borrow a line from Poltergeist, “They’re heeeere!”
Do you know mosquitoes may ignore you if you’re lazy? Do you know girls do run the world when it comes to mosquitoes? Yep, the female mosquitoes bite, not the males. They need blood to produce fertile eggs. Male insects live off of nectar.
Here are 23 things you might not know about mosquitoes including tips to help you protect yourself and your family against these local bloodsuckers …
How bad are mosquitoes?
– They are capable of carrying and transmitting infectious diseases that kill literally hundreds of thousands of people annually worldwide.
– During April through September which is considered “mosquito season in Central Texas, The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department monitors the population and tests for mosquito-borne viruses.
A mosquito bite isn’t a bite
– A mosquito “bite” occurs when a mosquito inserts its needle-looking snout which is actually two parallel tubes called the hypopharynx, into your skin.
– While the mosquito is “biting” you, it is simultaneously sending its saliva down one tube and pumping blood up the other one.
– Not all bites result in a mosquito actually sucking your blood, because it may take several attempts for the mosquito to probe your skin to find a blood vessel.
– Your body’s immune system reacts to a mosquito bite by sending histamine to that spot. This causes blood vessels in that area to swell, which is why you may get a raised bump.
– The best thing you can do when you get a mosquito bite is not to scratch it. Washing it with warm soapy water can ease the itch. Topical or oral antihistamines also help.
Why mosquitoes are sneaky suckers
– Mosquitoes typically live for two weeks.
– Your blood travels into a mosquito quickly because its saliva contains an anti-coagulant that makes it flow quickly.
– Mosquitoes will suck your blood for as long as they can reaching upwards of four minutes! They can even rupture tiny blood vessels that are undetectable to the human eye. If blood spills out, they will drink that blood too!
– Mosquitoes can smell their dinner from a distance of up to 164 feet away.
– They are attracted to certain people more than others. People who give off more carbon dioxide are very intoxicating to a mosquito.
– Since larger people naturally give off more carbon dioxide, that’s why mosquitoes prefer adults more than children.
– Sweat (lactic acid) also “smells” yummy to mosquitoes.
– Mosquitoes can more easily “see” movement, so when you’re moving fast in the heat and panting (emitting carbon dioxide) and sweating (emitting lactic acid), you’re an easy target.
– A female mosquito only needs a few drops of water to lay eggs and she can lay up to 300 eggs at one time.
How to win the mosquito battle
– Mosquitoes can’t fly in wind or even breezes stronger than 1 mile per hour, so if you’re hanging out with a fan nearby, that can help to keep them away on a non-breezy day.
– Bug repellent with 15% DEET works for 90 minutes and works best if you spray it into your hands and then rub it on your skin.
– Standing (stagnant) water is a breeding ground for mosquito larvae, so keep it out of the yard by removing things like excess grass, leaves, firewood, toys, etc.
– Dump and refill things like plant saucers, bird baths or fountains every few days to keep mosquitoes out.
– Attach window screens to buckets or barrels you use for collecting rainwater.
– According to the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing are the best measures for reducing your risk of exposure to mosquitoes.
– A mosquito that has bitten a pet infected with heartworm can spread the disease by biting a healthy pet, so protect your furry friends too.
Do you have a good mosquito hack to share? Join the conversation at the Lake Travis Lifestyle Facebook Page.
Post image via Creative Commons U.S. Department of Agriciulture on Flickr