Does Fire Keep Mosquitoes Away?

a mosquito on someone's leg

Fending off mosquitoes is a ritual of both spring and summer—sometimes year-round depending on the weather and location. People try just about everything to keep these pesky, annoying little pests away, from sprays to candles to home remedies. Some people even try to eat certain foods to keep mosquitoes away. None of these options are particularly effective, however.

Mosquitoes aren’t just a nuisance. They can also carry a variety of diseases, including Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue and malaria. These aren’t things you want to mess around with!

Many people believe that mosquitoes only come out and bite at night, but that isn’t the case. Though it is true that the variety that carries the West Nile virus is more active from dusk until dawn, other types keep a different schedule. During the day, in shaded areas, you can find active mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus and chikungunya. So it pays to be mindful of what is flying around your yard and home at all times.

It’s no wonder that many people seek more effective solutions to keep these pests away. A licensed pest control professional can check out your yard and tell if there is standing water or other attractive sites where mosquitoes gather. They can also come up with a treatment plan and set up regular visits so you and your family can feel more comfortable at home.

So what can you do yourself? We all want to enjoy the outdoors, and we certainly don’t want pests to chase us inside.

Did you know that smoke is an effective method for keeping mosquitoes at bay? Mosquitoes are able to find us through a variety of signals. One way they are able to locate us is by smelling us. Smoke can help mask our scent, making it more difficult for mosquitoes to zero in on a person to bite.

The heat of a fire is another irritant for mosquitoes. Bugs stay away from the flames by impulse. Hot air is less dense than the cooler air around it, so it rushes past that cooler air, causing a current. Bugs don’t want to get caught in that pocket, or the resulting smoke from the fire. All of this makes a fire pit or campfire a perfect way to enjoy nature without the biting bugs.

Any smoke will make a mosquito think twice about crashing your party, but certain types of wood are more effective than others at repelling unwanted insects.

Pinion

This wood has a pine scent that evokes memories of sitting around the campfire with family and friends. Many people choose pinion for their backyard fire pits, making it easy to find in your area, either at a large home and garden store or even at roadside stands.

Eucalyptus

Burning the bark, wood and leaves of this great-smelling tree will help keep mosquitoes away from you and your loved ones or guests. This wood burns very hot, so it’s a great choice for colder nights sitting around the fire pit. Be sure not to use it indoors, because it sparks more than other wood and leaves a sticky residue behind. Because of the sparking, use a spark screen over your backyard pit if you have one.

No matter which wood you choose, try these tips to make your fire repellent to mosquitoes. First, take care when building the fire that you create a good many smoldering fireballs that set the foundation for producing a lot of smoke.

Once that foundation is set, your open fire can work together with it for a long burning time that continues to produce the smoke that will keep mosquitoes away.

a mosquito biting someone

How Do Mosquitoes Find You?

As previously mentioned, these flying menaces are quite fond of carbon dioxide. In fact, mosquitoes actually have carbon dioxide receptors. Research has found that the bugs use these receptors to zone in on a source of carbon dioxide. People are a great source of this gas.

Not only do mosquitoes seek carbon dioxide, but their receptors can be used to find skin odor. They have a laser-like focus on the source of their favorite scents and seem to zone in directly on our bare skin. Specifically, an olfactory receptor in a mosquito’s antennae reacts to chemicals in our sweat, especially lactic acid.

When they react to our scent and fly closer, mosquitoes sense our body heat, which attracts them even more. Once they have found a place to land on a person, scientists say mosquitoes actually can use their legs to “taste” your skin and find a place to bite. Once they have landed, it’s hard to fend them off.

Now for some good news: Scientists are studying ways to make humans less attractive to mosquitoes. Research has shown some promise in the idea that if science finds a way to mask the chemicals in our sweat that attract the bugs, they will lose interest and not seek people out and bite us. Mosquitoes rely on many steps of detection to find us. Research is still early on how to disrupt their olfactory process enough to repel them. While we wait for science to find that breakthrough, your best bet for getting rid of mosquitoes is to keep the bugs from your outdoor gathering areas in other ways. A licensed specialist will be happy to talk to you about your specific needs and come up with a specialized pest control plan.

a mosquito biting someone

What Makes Up a Mosquito’s Diet?

When you are the person being snacked on, it can seem like every mosquito in the vicinity has chosen you for dinner.  Some folks even wonder if mosquitoes can smell blood. In reality, not every mosquito is trying to track down a human for a meal. Only one kind consumes blood.

Both male and female mosquitoes eat nectar from flowers. But, only females feed on blood, which they need for reproduction. They use the protein in blood to develop their eggs.

Mosquitoes eat different things at different stages of their development. Mosquito larvae eat algae, bacteria and other organic things in the water where they live and grow. When they move to the pupal stage, they don’t need to eat at all.

As adults, the diet splits according to sex. Female mosquitoes don’t just eat human blood, either. They also drink blood from birds, snakes, small mammals and other living things. They can’t store enough protein during earlier growth stages to develop eggs, which is why they need to look for something to bite. Once a female mates, she drinks blood and lays her eggs. Then she finds another meal to help her develop another batch of eggs without having to mate another time. If the female mosquito can avoid predators—including a smack of the hand—she might go through this process a few times in just one summer.

Because males don’t feed on blood, they also don’t bite humans or animals. That means they don’t draw blood or transmit disease. Regardless of the gender of insects that are buzzing around your yard, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Give a licensed pest control professional a call to discuss your pest issues and how to mitigate the problem. You can even set up a maintenance plan so that you can keep mosquito populations at a minimum year round.

ABC Can Reduce Mosquito Populations on Your Property

If you’re ready for relief from mosquitoes, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our professionals will create a customized mosquito control plan. This way, you and your family members can feel more at ease in your outside space again.

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