Mosquitoes are a problem for most of the year in the warmer parts of the country. But even so, it can feel like they come back earlier each year. You thought you were at least going to have a few weeks of relaxation in beautiful weather before they showed up again, but these bloodsucking pests had different plans. As you’re relaxing in your backyard you may be wondering: Can mosquitoes bite through clothes? Will I be safe from these biting insects if I just cover up?
Mosquitoes prefer to access blood directly through the skin, but that doesn’t mean they won’t use their proboscis to get to the blood through the clothes you are wearing. Generally speaking, loose, long-sleeved and light-colored clothes significantly reduce the chances of your getting a mosquito bite. That being said, they do not completely remove the possibility of being bitten.
Let’s look at some specific examples.
Can Mosquitoes Bite Through Jeans?
Short answer: yes. Slightly longer answer: not always.
Several mosquito species have a proboscis that’s strong enough to make it through the tight weave of denim. That being said, jeans can offer you some degree of protection. Just remember that lighter color denim is better, and don’t assume your legs are completely safe, since some parts of your skin will still be exposed between your jeans and your shoes.
Can Mosquitoes Bite Through Socks?
Unfortunately, yes. Your socks might be thick, but they aren’t completely solid. There’s lots of space between the threads that make up socks, and mosquitoes can easily suck your blood through those spaces.
In addition, your socks are going to be considerably tight against you, making it relatively easy for a mosquito to poke through the sock and reach the underlying skin. Still, covered skin is better than uncovered skin, so socks aren’t completely useless. Just don’t think of them as mosquito armor.
Can Mosquitoes Bite Through Leggings?
The general rule of thumb is that clothes that are thinner and tighter make it easier for a mosquito to bite you as opposed to thicker, looser clothes. Since the fabric used for leggings is typically very thin and cling to your skin, unfortunately, they don’t offer a whole lot of protection.
Which Mosquito Species Are Most Likely to Invade My Space?
A unique relationship has developed between certain mosquitoes and humans. The species that are most drawn to people have learned how to infiltrate human habitats, living and breeding in our personal spaces. There are five types of mosquitoes that we are more likely to find in and around our homes.
The Yellow Fever Mosquito
The Aedes Aegypti, or Yellow Fever Mosquito, is an intensely black mosquito with a pointed abdomen, white bands on the legs and two white, lyre-shaped stripes on its dorsal thorax. In addition to spreading yellow fever, this mosquito also transmits Zika virus, Chikungunya and dengue fever. Aedes Aegypti is principally found in the south and southwest, but it’s also been reported in New York, southern Connecticut and New Jersey.
The House Mosquito
House mosquitoes are some of the most prevalent types of mosquitoes across the U.S. They’re not quite as common in southern states as other species, but homes have been known to get visits from Culex Restuans from time to time. This pest is most common in the Eastern and Central parts of the country.
The Southern Mosquito
Also known as Culex Quinquefasciatus, this mosquito has many physical and behavioral attributes similar to those of the house mosquito. More importantly to you, it’s common in the southern parts of the country and it’s the primary carrier of the St. Louis Encephalitis Virus.
The Asian Tiger Mosquito
This mosquito species is easily distinguishable by its striking white or silver stripes on the legs, thorax and abdomen. Less commonly known as Aedes Albopictu, they are a known carrier for various diseases, including Equine encephalitis, dengue fever and Cache Valley Virus.
Common Malaria Mosquito
Anopheles Quadrimaculatus is predominantly found in the eastern United States, particularly in the southeastern states, but sometimes takes a little detour to the south central part of the country. Back in the day, this species was the primary carrier of malaria here. While malaria isn’t considered a threat in the U.S. (the disease was eradicated here years ago), there’s always a concern that local mosquito species could pick it up from infected persons and set off an outbreak.
The Mechanics Of A Mosquito Bite
First off, male mosquitoes will never bite you, as they feed off flower nectar, plant sap and other non-human sustenance. It’s the female mosquitoes that you should worry about. Lady mosquitoes come after us because they need a blood meal for their reproductive cycle to be complete. The blood helps them develop, mature and lay eggs.
Remember when grandma said that mosquitoes loved biting you because you were sweet? Well, she might have been right. Several studies have supported the idea that mosquitoes actually prefer some people to others. Some factors that affect your misfortune when it comes to getting bit include having O-type blood, your metabolic rate level and even the type of clothes you wear.
Now you may be wondering, how exactly does a mosquito bite you?
The mouthparts of most mosquitoes (also known as proboscis) have a pair of maxillae and a pair of mandibles. These four filament-like parts pierce the skin during the bite. The ends of the maxillae are like toothed blades, which grip onto the skin during the bite. The mosquito then injects two other mouthparts (the hypopharynx and the labrum) into the skin. These mouthparts probe around under your skin looking for a blood vessel. Once a suitable blood vessel is found, it’s pierced, and the mosquito begins sucking blood through the labrum. The sucking is usually so hard that blood vessels may collapse—or even rupture.
As the mosquito is sucking blood, it also sends saliva through the hypopharynx. In doing so, the mosquito may transmit various disease-causing pathogens. The saliva may also cause an immunological reaction around the bite. In other words, depending on the person, a victim of a mosquito bite may experience swelling, itchiness, and redness around the bite site.
How To Prevent Mosquito Bites Naturally
No matter where you are, there’s a reasonable chance that disease-carrying mosquitoes are waiting for an opportune moment to bite you. Public health experts, therefore, agree that people need to make deliberate efforts to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
One thing that’s important to know is that—despite certain anecdotal stories that have been spread around—countless studies and experts have found that DEET is actually incredibly safe and effective, with minimal effects on either people or the environment.
How does DEET work? The chemical compound interferes with these pests’ ability to identify us as potential prey. While mosquitoes may land on someone who has applied a DEET-based repellent, they usually won’t bite.
However, it’s always prudent to get guidance from a reliable healthcare provider or pest control agency before using any kind of chemical repellent. If you simply don’t want to use chemicals on your body or around your home, there are other options.
Use Natural Repellents
Lemon eucalyptus is an EPA-registered repellent that the CDC has found to be moderately effective at deterring mosquitoes. Catnip oil, lemongrass oil and peppermint oil have been found in some studies to have similar effects.
Another “repellent”? Carry a fan. Mosquitoes aren’t the best fliers, so if you carry a fan with you, it’s possible to simply blow them away by throwing them off course. If you are sitting on your patio, a box fan can keep air moving so mosquitoes have a harder time landing on you. An overhead fan may be effective on porches in protecting you from mosquitoes.
Keep Mosquitoes Out of Your Home
Using screens on doors and windows will help to protect you by keeping these unwanted intruders out of your home. It also helps to use air conditioning instead of opening windows, in case there are any holes in screens that could be an entry point for these pesky pests. If you are really serious about mosquito-proofing your home, you could consider sleeping under a mosquito net.
Eliminate Breeding Grounds
By eliminating mosquito breeding grounds, you’ll reduce the mosquito population, decreasing your chances of getting bitten around your home.
Most mosquito species breed in places where water collects, so we can’t underestimate the importance of eliminating stagnant water if you want to reduce your mosquito population. Where might you find this moisture accumulate near your home? In kiddie pools, bird baths, dog bowls, buckets, flowerpot saucers, trash cans and anything else that might collect water without your noticing it.
Wear Protective Clothing
You knew it had to come back to clothing, right?
Covering your skin reduces your chances of getting bit. It’s as simple as that. Loose-fitting, light-colored pants and long-sleeved shirts are always recommended, and even if they’re not perfect, they will help. If you’re willing to consider chemical or synthetic enhancements, some clothes are actually specifically designed to prevent mosquito bites. These products use tightly-woven synthetic fibers, as well as chemicals, to repel our blood-seeking friends. Insect Shield and Nobitech clothing brands are, for instance, treated with Permethrin.
ABC Can Take The Bite Out Of Your Backyard Time
While there are methods of temporarily getting rid of these pesky bugs, your best bet is to call a professional. You don’t want to wear long sleeves and pants all summer, especially on those particularly hot days. The experienced pest professionals at ABC Home & Commercial have been helping families with mosquitoes for decades and can work with you to eradicate your pest problems. With ABC’s help, you can enjoy spending time in your yard again, without having to spend all your time swatting away mosquitoes.