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All about Surviving Mosquito Bites and How to Repel Them
Gear Up for Your War Against Mosquitoes
Are you someone who always get those itchy mosquito bites?
To some it might just be a minor inconvenience to be endured but those pesky mossies (that's what Australians and New Zealanders call them) can carry a range of dangerous diseases.
For me, what started as a problem to be endured became something more as I waded through the myths, half truths and scientific facts to see what can be done for the protection of my family and myself.
Know Thy Enemy (from Sun Tzu's Art of War)
To better understand what we are up against, we need to identify the type of mosquitoes that infest the different regions.
Most mosquitoes only feed at dusk and dawn periods. But there are some species like the dreaded Aedes that have adapted to our urbanized environment and will breed in clean water and the Asian Tiger Aedes mosquito will fly and feed in the day.
The Aedes Aegypti is the main culprit vector in spreading many dangerous desease like yellow fever, dengue fever and Chikungunya. While the genus Anopheles carries the life threatening malaria desease.
The Culex mosquito is another dangerous genus that spreads the dangerous West Nile virus
So What Attracts and Repels Mosquitoes?
Ironically mosquitoes are nectar feeders and the floral scent from perfumes, shower gels or some lotions might attract them.
Most of the information is in agreement that they target us through the exhaled carbon dioxide when we breathe. Research have identified that the Culex mosquito is attracted to the compound Nonanal (also called nonanaldehyde is an alkyl aldehyde), has a strong fruity or floral odor and is used in flavors and perfume, it is also produced by the human body.
The CDC recommends the use of DEET, Picaridin , Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and IR3535 (an insect repellent found in Avon Products Skin So Soft line of topical insect repellents).
DEET is one of the most effect form chemical repellent but there are also research that points to harmful effects which rule them out for use on infants or for long term continuous use. The
Picaridin is also know as Icaridin and has been reported to be as effective as DEET without the irritation associated with DEET. Unlike DEET, icaridin does not dissolve plastics, and is reported to be effective against Culex mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus. However it is uncertain how effective it is against the Aedes with Consumer Reports 2006 test results stating a 7% picarridin solution offered little or no protection againt the Aedes mosquito.
There are also several natural plant based remedies that repels them by masking us from them and confusing their sensing capabilities. The thing about natural plant repellents is that the plant's leaves and stem needs to be crushed and applied onto exposed skin. Depending on the concentration, they typically only last for up to 1 hour and thus needs repeated applications to be effective. Examples of natural repellents are the Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, lemon grass, the mosquito plant , and the garlic plant. Do note that the effects of these natural remedies are not completely proven and verified.
Research on mosquito sound sensing capability suggest they are most sensitive to sound frequency range of around 300 Hz to 500 Hz. However it is not be verified if which of these frequencies if any will repel them. Interestingly there is research into applying sound waves to kill mosquito larvae in water. It remains to be seen if this effect can be applied onto adult mossies (or mozzies as some "affectionately" calls them).
How to Stop the Itch with Natural Simple Home Remedies
There are many remedies on the web for mosquito bites. From my personal experience, I highly recommend using salt with a bit of water or apple cider vinegar directly on the wound, guaranteed to stop the itching immediately. Aloe Vera either in its natural form or a commercial gel will serve a double action of healing the wound fast and stop the itch at the same time.
Some DIY Moquito to Repel, Trap or Kill Pesky Mosquitoes
The Future of Long Term Mosquito Control
The long term solution to mosquito control lies in gaining better understanding of the mosquito threat and breaking the breeding cycle of the pervasive mosquito.
Current control strategies involve the systematic checks and elimination of their breeding grounds, coupled with chemical fogging to kill the larvae in their breeding ground.
Some of My Favorite Mosquito Information Sources
- Entomology & Plant Pathology - Mosquitoes
A great page on mosquito biology and behavior of the different genus.
- Singapore National Environment Agency (NEA) - Tackling the Dengue Problem in Singapore
NEAs key strategy in dengue control is to tackle the root of the problem, which is to deny Aedes mosquitoes the place to breed (i.e. source reduction). This approach has been endorsed by WHO.
- News Stories on the Used of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes
A UK not-for-profit public interest group has criticized the British scientists that released three million genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes on Grand Cayman this year.
- Malaysia's own "mosquito attractant"
Malaysia's Largest Online Community