Spring is here, but in addition to warm weather and blooming flowers, spring also means the start of mosquito season. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to reduce the mosquito population around your house and avoid getting bitten by these annoying insects.
1. Know mosquito habits
The first thing you can do to avoid mosquitoes is to know their biology and habits. If you know when they are the most active and where they hide during the day, you can outsmart them.
Most mosquito species are most active during dusk and dawn. Mosquitoes prefer cooler and slightly humid conditions as opposed to direct sunlight and the heat of a summer day. During the day, they hide in dark, humid places like barns, plant vegetation, holes in trees.
2. Know what attracts mosquitoes
There are three main mosquito attractants.
First, mosquitoes are extremely attracted to carbon dioxide or CO2, in fact that’s how they usually locate their target. Mosquitoes have an organ called maxillary palp that is dedicated to sensing CO2. When we release CO2 as we exhale, mosquitoes sense it and fly in our direction. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t breathe when you are outside! It only means that you should avoid working out or doing other activities that make you breathe harder during dusk and dawn, because the more heavily you breath, the more CO2 you release and the better mosquitoes will be able to find you.
The second thing that mosquitoes are highly attracted to is lactic acid – a substance that is released by our bodies when we exercise and sweat. Lactic acid also is a fairly common ingredient in shampoos, body washes and other cosmetic products, so make sure that you check labels of the products you use, to limit how much lactic acid you are exposed to.
And lastly another surprising thing that mosquitoes are attracted to is dark clothing. So if you know that you will be spending time outdoors, better chose light-colored clothing, preferably that also covers most of your body.
3. Take action!
Now that you know more about mosquitoes, you can take action yourself to reduce the mosquito population around your house and to make yourself less of a lure to mosquitoes.
First, you obviously should use mosquito repellent when you will be spending time outdoors. Repellents with DEET are the most efficient. If you are sensitive to DEET you can instead use a repellent that contains citronella oil, as studies have shown that it has similar efficiency. Don’t forget to reapply the repellent every few hours, because most repellents lose their repelling abilities quite quickly.
Second, make sure that you drain all of the standing water that is around your house. Standing water serves as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
By Karen Thompson of Insectcop
Bottom line: Three tips that can help you avoid getting bitten by mosquitos.
Members of the EarthSky community - including scientists, as well as science and nature writers from across the globe - weigh in on what's important to them. Photo by Robert Spurlock.