It’s sometimes said that the female of the species is deadlier than the male, and that’s certainly true of mosquitoes. Despite common knowledge, it’s only the female mosquito that bites – and only when she’s pregnant.
But mosquitoes breed often and in large amounts, so managing their population is a goal that needs constant attention. Unfortunately, many homeowners are slow and confused about what steps to take.
Every breath we take: mosquito behavior
Mosquitoes and other airborne insects are always annoying but many are sometimes dangerous: many carry potentially deadly diseases including malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and several strains of encephalitis. Worse still, mosquitoes are attracted to humans by the scent of carbon dioxide. We attract mosquitoes, in other words, every time we breathe.
Bad news for the Southern United States
Mosquitoes typically congregate in low-lying areas near still water or areas prone to high humidity, the same areas that are often the sites of suburban and semi-rural housing developments. It’s not uncommon, especially in the Southern United States, for suburban residents to find themselves seemingly besieged even in their own backyard. An old joke describes the mosquito as “the state bird of Louisiana.”
Treating mosquito bites: alternate solutions
Given the mosquito’s almost universal presence, it’s no wonder that a number of folk remedies find new generations of fans every year. Some of the more common include rubbing toothpaste or vinegar on stings, while other people prefer to apply ice directly to the stung area of the body to slow swelling and numb the nerve endings.
Mosquito magnets and other defenses
Another solution involves installing mosquito magnets, which use propane to chemically mimic human CO2 exhalation as well as heat and moisture signals. These relatively small and lightweight machines are often electrically powered and can safely protect most backyards regardless of time of year or number of people.