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Mosquito


Summary: There must be a reason that G_d created the mosquito, but I am not sure what it is. Mosquitoes spread disease and discomfort. I suppose they are a food source for birds and bats.

Mosquitoes are one of humanity's greatest enemies. They suck our blood, spread deadly diseases and it is nearly impossible to control their populations when they have available breeding grounds. To this day, over five million people die annually from malaria spread by mosquito bites, and many other diseases like encephalitis, West Nile disease and elephantiasis originate from mosquito bites.

Contrary to popular belief, adult mosquitoes do not collect human blood for food. Blood is used solely to provide protein for their larvae, whereas adult mosquitoes suck nectar from flowers for their nutrition.

Another misconception is that mosquitoes œbite. Actually, mosquitoes don't have jaws or teeth, so biting is definitely out. Instead, they use a long, tube-like mouthpart called a proboscis, to pierce skin and suck blood and only the females carry out this act.

Mosquitoes thrive in low, damp environments where there is plenty of standing water where the females can lay eggs. They cannot lay their eggs on moving water because newly hatched larvae need time to mature underwater. When the larva mature into adult mosquitoes they rise above the water and float on the surface for a while until their wings dry and their exoskeleton bodies harden. This whole process requires still water.

The most effective mosquito control is done by limiting the number of places where they can breed. Any stagnant water such as a pond, large puddle, or outdoor birdbath will be a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes. Eliminating the breeding grounds or spraying pesticides to kill larval or adult mosquitoes can help to reduce their numbers in a given area. Altosid Pro G is a granular product that can be added to standing water without fear of harming animals. It can be added to bird baths, pool covers, gutters and even horse troughs.

So, why do mosquitoes seem to attack you and not the person sitting next to you? It is because mosquitoes have strong chemical receptors that pick up the scent of carbon dioxide that is given off by people and animals as they exhale. Mosquitoes can also sense heat and movement, as well as other chemicals produced on your skin from up to thirty-five yards away. If your body temperature is higher than others, you are a more likely target. If you are putting out more carbon dioxide you are a better target. And, if you naturally smell better to the mosquito than the person sitting next to you, again, you are a better mosquito target.

There are lots of ways to avoid mosquitoes. Encouraging certain mosquito-eating insects is helpful, but you need to figure out how to draw dragonflies. Lots of people build bat houses, but most bird and bat species prefer to eat moths or beetles because a single beetle or moth provides more nutrition than a single mosquito.

Bug traps and bug zappers attract a low number of mosquitoes compared with the number of beneficial bugs they kill. Killing too many moths and beetles, for example, could lead to a reduction in songbird population in suburban areas, and who doesn't like to wake up to the sound of a songbird on a spring morning?

Unfortunately for those of us hoping to go œGreen, it has been found that synthetic mosquito repellents are more effective in keeping mosquitoes away than natural mosquito repellents like basil, garlic, lavender or lemongrass scents. DEET is still the most frequently used product in the US. OFF is a common brand name repellent that uses DEET. It can come in concentrations ranging from 5% to 100% active ingredient, the higher concentrations being more effective and lasting longer. DEET is mildly toxic, so you cannot be haphazard about selecting a concentration level. Five percent concentrations have been shown to last for about ninety minutes while higher concentrations can last up to ten hours. A concentration between 10% and 30% is all you should need in most situations.

Other mosquito repellents like picardin can also be effective in warding off mosquitoes. The common brand name for this chemical product is Cutter Advanced. Picardin works nearly as well as DEET in repelling mosquitoes, plus it does not have the unpleasant smell or give the plastic glaze feeling of DEET. Repel is a brand of mosquito repellent that uses an extract of lemon eucalyptus which is also effective and it has a pleasant scent. Citronella candles, clove oil, and catnip oil extract are some less effective alternatives that can provide some measure of protection.

The most effective preventative measure against mosquitoes is wearing light colored, loose fitting, long sleeved clothing and a DEET treatment. The light colors and scent of DEET disorients the mosquitoes so they don't land on you. This has been shown to prevent over 95% of mosquito bites.

 



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