It's a nice summer day and you're relaxing in your yard. Suddenly, you feel something bite you. You may begin to itch, when another bite takes place, and then another. It's those pesky mosquitoes again. Why do these insects annoy us and what can we do about it?
Mosquitoes have been around for millions of years. These insects have many sensors on their tiny bodies, which enable them to seek out humans for their attacks. Mosquitoes hatch from eggs, which need water to develop. When they complete the stages of their life cycle leading them into adulthood, they leave the water. Interestingly enough, it is only the female mosquito that bites, because she depends on blood for protein for her eggs. The male mosquito feeds on plant nectar.
The first line of defense against these pesky creatures is avoidance. Since mosquitos are attracted to smells, you should avoid wearing perfumes and strong hairsprays in the summer. Insect repellents such as DEET are also very effective. Wearing long sleeves and pants when possible and limiting your outdoor activities between dusk and dawn helps as well. The time between dusk and dawn is the peak time for mosquitoes. It is also wise to drain standing water on your property, as mosquitoes need the water for their life cycles. Also, repair or install screens in your home's windows and doors. Some recommend taking one tablet of vitamin B-1 twice a day as a use to repel these nasty creatures.
If you do fall victim to mosquitoes, there are a number of remedies you can use to help with the discomfort of their stings. Instead of scratching, try hitting the bite. It is the scratching that will cause swelling. You can also apply an ice pack to deal with the symptoms or use cool compresses. Calamine lotion or anti-itching lotions such as a 1% hydrocortisone cream will help to relieve the itching. Anti-inflammatory drugs and antihistamines can control your symptoms as well.
Among the remedies found in your home, mint toothpaste is probably the best known. By applying this to the infected area, the itching and swelling will be relieved. Putting rubbing alcohol or vinegar on the area is also effective. Mixing meat tenderizer with water or vinegar to form a paste, and spreading it over the swelling is something else you can try. Some claim a deodorant or antiperspirant rolled over the area will do the trick. Visine or plain old lemon juices are also some remedies. If all else fails, you can always try an oatmeal bath.
Another remedy is to try rubbing a wet bar of soap over the bite until a paste forms. Sometimes wetting the bite and putting salt on it will work. Dabbing witch hazel on the bite will also help the itch. Some suggest painting the bite with clear nail polish to relieve your symptoms. If you happen to be at work, try putting a piece of scotch tape over the bite for a while.
The main reason for these remedies, beside relief, is to control the itching so it doesn't lead to bleeding, scabbing, or possible secondary infections. Just keep in mind that although we might view mosquitoes as pesky creatures, in rare instance they can be dangerous. They can transmit fatal diseases such as mosquito borne encephalitis, malaria, and West Nile virus. Protection goes a long way.