Mosquitoes

Don't let mosquitoes spoil your holiday

Things you need to know about mosquitoes

Mosquitoes Mosquitoes are annoying and what's worse, their bites sometimes transmit serious diseases, such as West Nile virus. While the risk of getting a diseases is low is Spain, your risk of being annoyed by mosquitoes is high. Mosquitoes are most prevalent at dawn and dust but you should take steps to keep those pesky creature at bay no matter what time of day it is. When they are not active, mosquitoes usually hide in moist shady places such as hedges and woodland, or in houses. Depending on the species, mosquitoes can grow to 4 to 6 mm long. Only the females bite and suck blood, which they need to produce their eggs. The males do not bite. Usually the mosquito larvae grow in stagnant (dirty) and shallow water. Moisture and heat speed up the developing cycle of the larvae. By following some of these basic steps, you and your family can spend less time scratching and more time at the playground, in the garden or enjoying a barbecue or bottle of wine on the terrace.

Deterring: mosquitoes with insect repellents

Insect repellents are one good way to keep mosquitoes at bay. When used properly repellents are safe for kids and adults alike. Keep in mind that even though some are classified as pesticides by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) repellents don't kill mosquitoes so you may still see some buzzing around. Common insect repellents include:

DEET: This pesticide has long been the insect repellent of choice in the United States. DEET blocks a mosquitoes ability to find people who've applied it.

Picaridia: This pesticide offers protection that's comparable to DEET at similar concentrations and also blocks the mosquitoes ability to find people who've applied it. Picaridia is nearly odourless, which may make it a good alternative if you're sensitive to the smell of other insect repellents.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus: This plant-based chemical may offer protection that's comparable to low concentrations of DEET

Others: Shorter acting repellents generally contain plant based oils of geranium, cedar, lemon grass, soy or citronella and offer limited protection.

You must check the labels on insect repellents products to see which chemicals or other ingredients they contain and be sure to follow the products applications guidelines

Deterring: mosquitoes with clothing

What you wear can also help to keep mosquitoes at bay. Clothing tips to keep in mind, particular in area that are heavily infested with mosquitoes include:

  • Wear long sleeved shirts
  • Wear socks
  • Wear trousers
  • Wear light-coloured clothing, since mosquitoes are more attracted to darker colours
  • Wear a full-brimmed hat to protect your head and neck

Deterring: mosquitoes by removing standing water

Mosquitoes need stagnant or standing water to breed. Eliminate standing water, especially after rain and you can reduce the mosquito population around your house and garden. Common methods for removing water include:

  • Unclog roof gutters
  • If possible, empty wading pools at least once a week, and preferably more often
  • Change water in bird baths at least weekly. You can also purchase devices to place in bird baths that keeps the water circulating so that mosquitoes won't lay eggs there.
  • If you keep unused containers, such as flower pots in our garden, empty them regularly or store them upside down so that they can't collect water.

Deterring: other methods

Other methods of controlling mosquitoes are also popular but their effectiveness is unproved. These other methods include:

  • Electronic insect control systems, better know as bug zappers
  • Citronella-scented candles
  • Replacing outdoor lights with yellow bug lights
  • Attracting birds and mammals that feed on mosquitoes, such as bats and lizards.

Mosquito bites: what to do

If a mosquito still finds you to be a tasty meal, use hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion or a baking soda paste to ease the discomfort of an itchy bite. A cold pack or baggie filled with crushed ice may help, too.

If a mosquito bite seems to be causing more serious signs and symptoms such as fever, severe headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, a rash, lethargy, confusion or sensitivity to light - contact your doctor.

These signs and symptoms may indicate West Nile fever or rarely, Encephalitis. Prompt diagnoses and treatment are important.