9 Mosquito Myths Debunked
It's mosquito season. Learn fact from fiction to help protect your family.
The start of summer means pool days, frozen cocktails and family vacations. Unfortunately, it also means more mosquitos, and bites are inevitable for some of us. To help you prepare, Jason Cameron, host of America's Most Desperate Landscape, and Amy Lawhorne, vice president of Mosquito Squad, debunk the top nine most common mosquito myths. Plus, they share ways to help protect you and your family.
Myth: All mosquitos bite.
Truth: It may seem like all mosquitoes bite, because the ones you see buzzing around are always out for your blood. But in reality, only female mosquitoes bite. They need the specific nutrients in blood to produce eggs. Male mosquitoes only eat plant matter, and not people, so you’ll rarely see a male mosquito bothering you.
Myth: Consuming alcohol does not affect your attractiveness to mosquitoes.
Truth: Sorry, but think again! Enjoying a few beers or cocktails outside on a summer evening can in fact make you more appealing to thirsty mosquitoes. According to a French study, consuming 12 ounces of beer makes you more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes.
Myth: After biting you the mosquito dies.
Truth: Many assume that since some bees die after they sting, it must also be true of mosquitoes. However, mosquitoes bite, not sting. So, after a female mosquito bites you, she will go off to lay eggs and eventually come back for more. It is true that some species of bees die after they sting their victims.
Myth: Mosquitoes prefer people with "sweet" blood.
Truth: Some people like to say that mosquitoes love them because they’re sweeter. Unfortunately, the taste of your blood has nothing to do with why a mosquito comes after you. The CO2 in your breath and the odors you release play a bigger role in attracting these pests. However, scientific studies have shown that people of certain blood types are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than others. People with Type O blood were about twice as likely to be bitten than those with Type A blood. Plus, about 85 percent of people secrete a chemical signal through their skin indicating their blood type, and mosquitoes are more attracted to people who secrete this chemical, regardless of what blood type they are.
Myth: Pregnancy puts you at risk.
Truth: If you think that being pregnant makes you a mosquito magnet, you aren’t alone. A study published in 2000 supported the belief that mosquitoes prefer pregnant women. But the study included only 36 pregnant women and 36 nonpregnant women, and used mosquitoes native to Gambia, a small country in Africa. The study might be valid, but not for the obvious reason. Pregnant women give off more heat and carbon dioxide, which are attractive to mosquitoes. Getting hot and sweaty, and breathing heavily after a workout could potentially make you just as much of a target as a mom-to-be.
Don't Forget the Bug Repellant
Don't let mosquitoes ruin your party. Include decorative citronella candles with the rest of the lighting scheme. Also have mosquito repellent handy for your guests. Choose one with a light scent, such as aloe. Don't use a bug zapper as they are too noisy and unsettling to some people.
Myth: Citronella candles will protect you.
Truth: Citronella is a common ingredient in insect repellents, due to its strong smell, which tends to mask mosquito attractants. While these candles are somewhat effective, they tend to have a very limited radius and are best used in enclosed patios and other confined spaces. The candles won’t work if conditions are windy.
Myth: What you wear can affect your attractiveness to mosquitoes.
Truth: Scientists are still trying to figure out why different colors attract mosquitoes more than others, but have declared that mosquitoes are attracted to colors most similar to plants and animals that they would normally prey upon. Red, navy blue and black are the three worst colors when it comes to trying to avoid mosquitoes, but anything dark will attract them considerably more than lighter shades.
Myth: All over-the-counter repellents work.
Truth: With an array of mosquito sprays and repellents available, it can be hard to find one that will actually be the most effective. The most proven bug sprays tend to use some concentration of DEET, a pesticide geared towards protecting you from all sorts of bugs. For safety purposes, if using a DEET-based spray you should use concentrations of 50 percent or less, avoid spraying skin that will be covered by clothing and wash your skin after coming back inside.
Myth: Every continent on the planet has mosquitoes. You can’t escape them.
Truth: Yes, you can. But you’ll have to move to Antarctica to do it. Even the Arctic tundra and Siberia swarm with the pests during their short summers.
The 7 T's of Mosquito Control
- TIP. Anything that can hold water — tip it over! This includes children's sandboxes and toys, plant saucers and dog bowls.
- TOSS. Excess grass, leaves, firewood and yard clippings. Chuck ‘em.
- TURN. Tipping is great, but turning over is better. Turn over larger yard items that could hold water.
- REMOVE TARPS. If you have tarps stretched over firewood piles, boats or sports equipment, and they aren't taut — you guessed it, they're holding water. Water equals mosquitoes.
- TAKE CARE. Take care of home maintenance needs that can contribute to standing water. Areas where water pools, such as near faucets or water spouts, leaking irrigation systems, clogged gutters — all of these places offer a breeding haven for mosquitoes.
- TEAM UP. Despite taking all precautions in your own home, talking with neighbors is a key component to mosquito control. Townhomes and homes with little space between lots mean that mosquitoes can breed at a neighbor’s home, and affect your property.
- TREAT. Using a mosquito elimination barrier treatment at home reduces the need for using DEET bug spray on your body. Mosquito Squad's mosquito control barrier protection eliminates up to 90 percent of mosquitoes and ticks on a property.