About the Mosquito
What’s the worst bug on the planet? You might vote horsefly or the wasp but for many people the worst offender by far is the mosquito. The buzzing, the biting, the itching. The mosquito is one of the most detested insects in the world. Mosquito borne diseases kill millions of people every year. Mosquitoes have been around for over 100 million years and over that time have co-evolved all sorts of species, including our own. There are actually thousands of species of mosquitoes but they all share one insidious quality, they suck blood.
Here’s how they do it. After landing, the mosquito will slather some saliva onto the victim’s skin. This is what causes the itchy red spots. The bug will use its serrated mandibles to carve a little hole in your skin, allowing it to probe around searching for a blood vessel. When it hits one, the lucky parasite consumes 2-3 times its weight in blood.
Humans hate mosquitoes so much that we spend millions of dollars worldwide to keep them away from us. Below are just a few examples.
But it’s not just mosquitoes are annoying, they’re also deadly. Mosquitoes can transfer anything form malaria to yellow fever to west Nile virus to dengue fever. Over a million people worldwide die every year from mosquito borne disease. And that’s just people. Horses, dogs and cats, they can all get diseases from mosquitoes too.
So why don’t we just get rid of them? It’s not quite that simple. Getting rid of the mosquito removes a food source for a lot of organisms from frogs, fish and birds. Without them plants lose a pollinator. But some scientists say that mosquitoes aren’t all that important. If you get rid of them, another species would simply take their place and we would have far fewer deaths form malaria. The problem is that nobody knows exactly what will happen if we kill all mosquitoes. Something better might take their spot or perhaps something even worse. The question is, are we willing to take that risk.
How to avoid being bitten
A combination of the methods below will increase your protection against mosquito bites.
Mosquito repellents are important for avoiding exposure to mosquito-borne diseases. Use an insect repellent containing at least 20% DEET and always use according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The best protection for babies and young children is protective clothing, bed nets and other forms of insect screening. Only infant-strength repellents should be used for young children. The Bushman’s range is a must have this summer when outdoors. It is:
- Suitable for the whole family
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- Sweat, water and rub resistant
- Great for exercise, warmer climates holidays and outdoor activities
- Pleasant odour
- Repels flies, sand flies, leeches, ticks and other biting insects.
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially around dawn and dusk. However, mosquitoes will still bite during the day.
- Wear long, loose-fitting and light-coloured clothing as mosquitoes can still bite through fitted clothing, even denim jeans.
- Use mosquito nets treated with insecticide
- Insecticide-treated clothing, electric fans, screened accommodation, air conditioning, mosquito coils, vaporising mats and insect-repellent soap are also useful
Around the home
- Insect-proof houses by screening all doors and windows
- Self-closing doors that open outwards are preferred
- If in a mosquito prone area, consider a screened outdoor enclosure to enjoy outdoor activities
Travelling and camping
- Discuss your travel plans with your doctor at least 2 months prior to you leaving as you may need vaccinations or medications.
- Recognise and avoid areas of mosquito activity such as swamps, salt marshes, billabongs and river floodplains.
Reducing mosquito breeding areas around the home
Mosquitoes breed in any type of standing water. To reduce mosquito breeding in your backyard, remove containers that may contain still water or scrub them on a weekly basis.
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