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Welcome to Mosquito Season!

Spring has come and gone, now welcome to mosquito season. As you pack your bags for the beach house or the mountain campground don’t forget to pack light colored clothing with long sleeves, long pants and a bucket load or two of insect repellent.bestbuffettoonbyjoesanchez

How much we enjoy summer in North America depends a lot on how many mosquitoes there are waiting for us outside. Their bites are itchy and their buzzing annoying, but there’s also reason for concern; mosquitoes carrying dangerous diseases are lying in wait to use us as their next meal.

What causes mosquito populations to explode and shrink? Truthfully, it’s a combination of weather and climate — mosquitoes are very sensitive to their environment. Temperature and rainfall are two major predictors of mosquito populations, and this is for a good reason: These two factors have the greatest effect on their survival and ability to reproduce.

Mosquitoes like it warm and wet. Like most insects, mosquitoes are cold-blooded, or ectothermic.  Their body temperature closely matches the temperature of the environment (air or water) around them. If it is cold outside, they are cold. freezing-bugsIf it is warm outside, they are warm. Any time spent beyond their comfort zone can slow down or stop their development or even cause them to be injured and die.

There are more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes buzzing around on our planet, and a small handful of those actively feed from humans. And even then, only female mosquitoes feed on blood (required for egg production). The less intimidating males drink flower nectar.

Some mosquito species are far from being just bothersome, they carry dangerous diseases.  In North America, West Nile virus is carried by the Culex mosquito culex mosquitoand can cause serious health issues, including coma and paralysis. In tropical regions, mosquitoes are vectors of malaria, yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses.  These debilitating diseases cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.  Two of the major offenders include the, Yellow fever mosquito or Aedes aegypti and the Asian tiger mosquito known as Ades albopictus

Aedes-egyepti        Aedes-egyepti

Aedes-Albopictus

Aedes- albopictus

The most effective mosquito repellent to date, is Deet.  A repellant that contains 5 to 7 percent Deet will ward off the hungriest of mosquitoes.  Why is it so effective?  Because it tastes bad!  Researchers have found that Deet doesn’t leave a bad taste in a mosquitoes’ mouth, but on the tongue-like cells on their feet.

mosquito repellant spray

Now, when you’re outside, coated in DEET, realize this: You still smell good enough to eat. Mosquitoes still want to drink your warm, red blood.mosquito-in-red-sneekers-clipart-k5770244 But your skin tastes really, really gross…… to their feet.

UPTICK IN TICK SIGHTINGS!

Now that the parks, hiking trails, and camping areas are open, more people are hitting the back country for much needed fresh air and exercise.  What they are most likely not expecting are the denizens of the bush waiting in anticipation of breakfast, lunch, or dinner.   hiking-1811970_960_720-2

Since people haven’t been outdoors as much, and recreational areas haven’t been cleared or mowed in a while, tick habitat has increased. There has also been an increase in wildlife (the tick’s favorite mode of transportation) coming into some urban areas more during these periods while people have been staying indoors.

Ticks are something people need to be aware of year-round but especially from April through September, although as the weather ticks-on-plant-sheep-tick-4858989_960_720warms their populations swell, peaking in the summer and declining in the fall.

Ticks find their hosts or prey by hanging on to a blade of grass or leaf, with their hind legs and holding their front legs up waving in the air, waiting for something or someone to brush by so they can grab on. This behavior is known as “questing”.

Common ticks of Southern California and Diseases they may carry, include:

ticks on fingerThings to do to keep you safe from ticks:

  • Wear light-colored clothing. Light colors make ticks easier to spot.
  • Tuck your pants inside your socks. This will create a physical barrier against ticks.
  • Use insect repellent. Chemicals that repel other insects are somewhat effective against ticks, although a heavier concentration of DEET — between 30% and 40% —may be needed. Permethrin is a stronger chemical that kills and repels ticks. Products containing permethrin should be sprayed on clothes, not on the skin.mosquito repellant spray
  • When hiking, biking or just walking the dog, stay in the middle of the path (or fairway). Ticks can’t fly or jump, so they can only get on you if you come into contact with the kind of environment they live in: moist, often shady, wooded areas, with leaves, low-lying plants, and shrubs.
  • The Sun is your friend. Ticks don’t do well in dry, open areas. Lawn furniture and playground equipment should be set back from the edge of wooded, shady areas. If you’re picnicking, pick a spot on well-tended lawn or open ground.
  • Inspect yourself and your children (and your pets), especially the legs and groin. Ticks usually get picked up on the lower legs and then climb upward in search of a meal. The likelihood of contracting tick-borne diseases decreases if a tick is removed immediately, and there’s no risk if it’s still crawling around.
  • Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)
  • Remove tick friendly conditions in your yard by eliminating tall grass and weeds, trimming shrubs and low branches, as well as raking and removing leaves. Thin out thick vegetation, let the sun in. Ticks love moist shady areas. Avoid over-watering.
  • Prevent ticks on animals by using tick control products to prevent tick-on-dog-paw-animal-4907434_960_720family pets from bringing ticks onto the property and into the home. Consult your veterinarian and be sure to use these products according to the package instructions.
  • Consider using a chemical control agent in your yard. Effective tick control chemicals are available for use by the homeowner, or they can be applied by a professional pest control expert, and even limited applications can greatly reduce the number of ticks.

Would you like to know how to safely remove a tick? Here is a link to detailed instructions for tick removal.  tick-after-feeding-482613_960_720-2https://globallymealliance.org/about-lyme/prevention/tick- removal/

Why Do Mosquitoes Love You? They think you’re HOT!

The two most dominant factors of mosquito attraction have to do with sight and smell, so there’s no brushing these guys (oops! Girls) off when they’re out looking for a quickie in the moonlight.

Here are four reasons a  Mosquito may pick you for the love of their life.

Your Fresh Breath

Woman Summer Dandelions Freedom Blowing Wind

Mosquitoes don’t bite randomly. Instead, they find a victim by following their steady output of carbon dioxide.  Researchers say that mosquitoes are adept at figuring out where their target is by following trails of exhaled carbon dioxide.

Unfortunately, there is no way to cut down on your carbon dioxide emissions besides holding your breath. So, if you are being bitten you might want to head indoors.

Your Hot Body

While carbon dioxide is how mosquitoes lock onto you as a target, heat may be how they figure out the best place to bite you.

Dr. Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, tells us that before mosquitoes can take a bite they have to find an area of the body where the blood is closest to the surface. Common areas include the forehead, wrists, elbows, neck and ankles.woman-sweating

With the ever-increasing number of people keeping fit by exercising out of doors, mosquitoes are having an easier time finding what they love most, blood. Those who are over heated or who have just finished working out will have blood closer to the surface of the skin throughout their body. Faster respirations and an increase in carbon dioxide output identifies “Prime Targets” for love starved mosquitoes.

Exercising outdoors at dawn or dusk (prime time for mosquitoes) also ups the risk for more love bites.

Although a few small studies have speculated that mosquitoes were after specific blood types, the CDC says that’s false. By the time the mosquito bites you, they’ve picked you as their target.

Your Cool Outfit

Black may be the best color for a fashion statement and it’s great for hiding body flaws but it’s the worst for hiding from mosquitoes.

If you’re heading to an outdoor event and looking to avoid becoming a mosquito’s meal, avoid anything in dark denim or all-black outfits because some mosquitoes are visual hunters that search you out by looking for signs of life against the horizon. If you dress in dark colors, you stand out against the horizon and mosquitoes can see you.

Your Party Spirit

Human Festival Celebrate PartyWhen you drink alcohol, your blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow to the surface of your body. You may feel a flushed, warm feeling.  This increased blood flow makes it easier for a lovesick mosquito, to target you.

 Picture by Dan Prado
Picture by Dan Prado

Movement can also draw these biting insects in, so gyrating party dancers and avid hikers on the move should wear plenty of bug-repellent.

Fact:

mosquito-no-more-deetEven though DEET has been the recommended repellent of choice, there are still those who look for a more natural solution to stop mosquitos from biting.  According to the CDC, lemon eucalyptus oil could be a much safer and more natural solution.  The CDC confirmed that lemon eucalyptus oil can be as effective as DEET in repelling mosquitoes.

 

Need more information on mosquitoes and how to keep them from ruining your day?

Follow this link to Corky’s Pest Control. https://www.corkyspest.com/mosquitoes.html