Why are mosquitoes biting in the UK?
With UK experiencing one of the wettest summers for years, the inhabitants of these islands are experiencing the unwelcome attentions of the mosquito. Mosquito bites are usually the result of holidaying in the warmer climates of the southern half of Europe, however with aforementioned wet summer and the puddles that have been created providing excellent breeding grounds, the little flying predators are having a field day on the stay at home population of the British Isles. This article will briefly explain why some people are more likely to be bitten by a mosquito than others, how to avoid being bitten, and finally what to do to alleviate the effects of a mosquito bite.
Locating Their victims.
Mosquitoes use a variety of methods to locate in on their victims. They have the ability to locate and identify the carbon dioxide in human breath. They also identify a chemical called octenol that is present in human sweat and breath, and many of the other compounds that are present in human body odour. All humans emit roughly equal amounts of carbon dioxide, but the other chemical emissions that are attractive to mosquitoes are individual to each human: and it is these subtle nuances that determines who get bitten and who does not.
Dawn and Dusk.
Dawn and dusk are the times of the day people are most likely to suffer a mosquito bite, and they seem to bite on the lower leg. To avoid a mosquito bite it is advisable to cover up if possible, or apply a tried and trusted repellent. Some groups of people are more vulnerable than others; pregnant women and beer drinkers among them. To avoid attracting the attentions of a mosquito it is advisable not to wear perfumes or afters haves and in extreme cases a mosquito net.
There are a great many products being offered on the market as mosquito repellents. Some work well, some just about work and some do not work at all. There is no proof that garlic or thiamine (VitaminB1) has any effect on repelling mosquitoes. Likewise citronella, often cited as a natural repellent, has been found to be ineffective.
Products containing N,N-diethylmetatoluamide, or Deet seem to provide some of the best protection at the present time. This works by masking the odours that attract the mosquito and rendering the intended target invisible to the insect’s receptors. Should the insect break through this defensive screen, Deet makes the intended target give off an unpleasant taste to the mosquito. Most applications containing 30% Deet should give about six hours protection. It is inadvisable to use any applications containing more than 20% on children and Deet should not be used at all on babies younger than two months. Although sprays containing Deet are available, lotions are considered more effective.
If all else fails and the mosquito bites, use a cream containing 1% hydrocortisone, and a antihistamine that is non-sedative and long lasting. Both of these are available over the counter at chemists or pharmacists. Always check with a pharmacist before applying to children. Finally seek medical advice if the bites or surrounding inflammation become pussy or painful rather than just itchy.
The female mosquito.
I believe it is well known that it is only the female mosquito that bites, as she requires a blood feast for her eggs. It is the reaction against the mosquito bite that will vary from person to person. Often people, who have lived in areas where a mosquito bite is more common, will build up an immunity to the effects of a bite. It is not that the mosquito does not bite them, but that they have built up immunity and do not notice the mosquito bite.
The mosquito is responsible for many deaths.
The majority of people, who live countries that are not plagued by mosquitoes, tend to treat mosquito bites as a minor inconvenience. But in the less fortunate parts of our planet, the mosquito bite is responsible for many serious illnesses and deaths. The diseases we are most aware of are yellow fever and of course malaria. As these two diseases and others are responsible for the deaths of over a million people each year, a huge amount of research has been carried out on the effect the mosquito bite .Much of the research has been controversial and highly expensive, and as yet a definite end to the threat mosquitoes pose to humanity is not yet in sight.