SoCal is now a mosquito zone. Here’s how to defend yourself

Summer is here and so are the mosquitoes in your backyard, waiting to gnaw at your ankles. And elbows. And earlobes.

Not coincidentally, the start of the season is also National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, when the American Mosquito Control Foundation. and other experts share tips for stopping these blood-sucking pests.

Like most blood-sucking insects, mosquitoes are attracted to humans from afar by the carbon dioxide we exhale, said Daniel Markowski, technical advisor to the AMCA. As they approach, they use a variety of cues, such as shape, size, and color, to master their host.

The Times asked experts how to repel leeches, what to do when bitten by leeches, and why some people attract mosquitoes more than others. Here’s what they said.

Bug attraction

According to the AMCA, there are 30 types of mosquitoes in the United States. Despite their differences – for example, some feed during the day and others at night – they share a common water-dependent life cycle.

We’re all familiar with the sight of adult female mosquitoes buzzing in our ears and biting our arms, says Markowski. “But after biting and developing a clutch of eggs, the female mosquito needs a place with or near standing water to lay her eggs,” he said.

Standing water left alone for at least seven days is a magnet for mosquitoes. Typical locations include birdbaths, old tires, and clogged drains.

Greater Los Angeles County Vector County lists a number of backyards and home appliances that can stealthily collect standing water, such as portable basketball hoops, outdoor grills without roofs, potted plants, and flowerpots .

“Because mosquito larvae feed on rotting organic matter and other microorganisms, the water must be stagnant and contain some organic matter such as leaves, soil or grass to support mosquito growth,” says Markowski.

You can get rid of these spawning areas by draining or pouring water, then blocking more from collecting there – for example, by turning a bucket upside down or covering a grill. Do this at least once a week.

The other two main mosquito attractants are bare skin and dark clothing. So when you’re enjoying the outdoors, wear long sleeves, long pants, and loose, light-colored clothing.

“Dark colors are not recommended in the habitat of the main inclined animals because they stand out more, especially in terms of background and contrast,” he said.

We also secrete other chemical cues, including breath odor, skin bacteria and other man-made fragrances, says Markowski.

“We are all different, and these different combinations are more or less attractive to different species of mosquitoes,” says Markowski.

He said some studies have shown that certain blood types may be particularly attractive to certain species of mosquitoes. “I surmise that the combination above, along with blood type, is really what makes one person more attractive to mosquitoes than others,” he said.

Your diet can also play a role in whether or not you snack. Consumption of foods such as bananas, avocados and grapes has shown that some mosquito species enhance host-seeking, but Markowski speculates that an individual’s metabolism is a larger factor than that of foods. specific food to be eaten.

Buzz off

Vector County Greater Los Angeles County says one thing to do to prevent mosquito bites is to apply an insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535 (trade name for ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate) or lemon eucalyptus oil.

For all products, you should treat a small area of ​​your body first to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction before applying it on a large scale, says Markowski. Read the product label and follow all instructions for use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise against spraying insect repellent under your clothes. It also suggests that if you are using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.

Meanwhile, the US Environmental Protection Agency has an online tool to help you figure out which repellent is best for you.

An alternative to chemical-based sprays or creams are those with plant-based ingredients like lemongrass, lavender, and mint. These ingredients are less effective than their synthetic counterparts, says Markowski, and they can work for you if mosquitoes don’t find you strongly attractive.

You can also try to make the outdoor area where you can hang out mosquito-free by setting up a few tiki torches or other mosquito repellent diffusers. But the effectiveness of a diffuser can vary by species of mosquito. Try one at a time until you find the approach that works best for you.

Certain plants can also provide some level of protection to your yard. These include lemongrass and some other varieties of geranium, marigold, lemongrass, catnip, some mints, lavender, and lantana. There are also popular aromatic herbs with limited mosquito repellency, such as rosemary, garlic, basil, thyme, and dill. No, you don’t have to wear garlic around your neck.

If a mosquito tries to bite you despite all these precautions, don’t scratch! Markowski says scratching can cause a secondary infection and prolong the duration of the irritation. In severe cases, people can scar themselves.

Usually you just need to use an anti-itch cream to relieve the discomfort. If you’re very allergic to mosquitoes, he says, you may need a cream containing Benadryl or a similar antihistamine.

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