Swimming, yard work, grilling out—these are just a few of the hallmark activities of warm weather. But when these pastimes switch from fun outdoor time to itchy battles with mosquitoes, many people start to wonder what they can do to prevent those obnoxious bites. For example, is there a color of clothing you could wear that would offer you protection against mosquitoes?
It’s a smart possibility to consider, since research has shown that mosquitoes do seem to bother people wearing light-colored clothing less than those wearing darker colors. Is this because dark clothes retain more heat, causing us to sweat more than lighter ones? Or is it because dark clothing provides a greater contrast against daytime skies, helping mosquitoes close in on their targets and hide more effectively once they land and start to feed?
The answer to these questions is still up for debate, but many scientists agree that blue or black clothing tends to make people more of a target for mosquito bites than white or khaki clothes. Darker clothing tends to make people sweat more, which increases lactic acid output—and female mosquitoes are attracted to lactic acid output, along with other factors like body heat and movement, as well as the carbon-dioxide emissions in our breath. Only female mosquitoes bite people.
Incidentally, female mosquitoes don’t bite people for food. Both the males and females feed on plant matter. Female mosquitoes seek out blood meals from humans and other animals because they need the proteins found in mammal blood to help their eggs develop. They lay their eggs in standing water—even just a small amount of water, such as that found in a planter after a rain, a low-lying area of the yard or even a pile of damp leaves.
Female mosquitoes can lay over one hundred eggs at a time, and generally lay three sets of eggs on average during their lifetime. It can take anywhere from just ten days to several months for their eggs to hatch into the larval stage of the mosquito life cycle, depending on environmental conditions. Many types of mosquito eggs can tolerate a cold winter, surviving until spring when temperatures warm up enough for them to hatch. Once they have developed into larvae, it can take as little as four days, and up to two weeks, for a fully formed adult mosquito to emerge.
With those numbers, it’s easy to see why mosquitoes are so prolific. It also explains why it can be so difficult to control these pests, especially if you don’t take certain basic precautions around your home and yard to keep their numbers as low as possible. And, mosquitoes aren’t just annoying. They can also transmit diseases to humans, such as the Zika and West Nile viruses, and cause painful, itchy allergic reactions in pets.
Here are some of the most effective ways to keep mosquitoes at bay:
- Keep your yard mowed, raked and cleared of underbrush. When mosquitoes aren’t out feeding or seeking human (and pet) victims to bite for their blood, they tend to hang out in tall grasses or bushes. They can also breed in very small amounts of water—even the minimal amount found in layers of damp leaves. Keeping your landscaping trimmed and neat can reduce the mosquito population in your yard, which in turn will reduce the mosquito bites that you and your family will have to endure.
- Make sure your windows, doors and screens fit securely. Repair any gaps or tears in screens to prevent mosquitoes from coming indoors and invading your living space. Mosquitoes can thrive indoors as well as outdoors, as long as they have the conditions they need—namely, warmth and access to water for breeding.
- Water both indoor and outdoor plants appropriately, prevent pots and planters from retaining water, change pets’ water bowls frequently and fix dripping faucets and leaky pipes. Overwatering houseplants can lead to standing water in the bottom of the pots, which can provide indoor mosquitoes the perfect place to lay eggs. Similarly, leaky faucets and pipes can create small puddles that give mosquitoes enough water to reproduce. By dumping out standing water from planters, toys, tires and other items outdoors after a rain, and keeping water from collecting anyplace indoors, including indoor pets’ water bowls, you can start to get rid of mosquitoes in your house and yard.
- Use fans, both indoors and outdoors, to keep mosquitoes away. These insects are not great fliers and have a harder time flying in a straight line and reaching their intended target when the air is moving. Additionally, fans can dilute the scent you give off, making it more difficult for mosquitoes to find you.
Many people find it time-consuming to keep up with the yard and home maintenance required to reduce mosquito activity around their houses and yards. If this is the case for you, it can be a wise choice to hire a reputable company that can provide you with effective pest control and ongoing home improvement tasks, so you can enjoy your indoor and outdoor living spaces without being bothered by pesky mosquitoes.
When trying to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes, many homeowners wonder if there’s a certain time of day or night when they can go outside and mosquitoes won’t be flying around. And, on the flip side, is there a time when mosquitoes are most active so you can try to avoid going outside?
When Are Mosquitoes Most Active?
There are peak times for mosquito activity, but it depends on the type of mosquito that is active in your area. Different species of this insect are active at different times of day and night, and mosquito activity also varies depending on the time of year.
As a general rule, mosquitoes of all types aren’t typically active at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why mosquito season typically begins in spring across the Southern states, when ambient temperatures and the ground itself start warming up. Unfortunately, in warmer areas, mosquito season can last for many months on end, starting as early as March or even February and extending into October or even November.
Beyond seasonal factors, most species of mosquito are also most active at certain times of day. Most species are most active at either dawn, dusk or night; this means people may have a bit less trouble with mosquitoes during the hottest part of the day, in broad daylight. Still, there are common mosquito species, such as the Asian tiger mosquito, that are most active during daylight hours—which unfortunately means there may be no “safe” time of day during mosquito season, as far as mosquito bites go.
With the unfortunate revelation that you may not have any downtime from mosquitoes, you’re probably wondering if there are any home remedies that can help control your mosquito problem.
Home Remedies for Mosquito Problems
As people scratch at the itchy welts left by blood-thirsty mosquitoes, many wonder whether there is an effective home remedy to keep mosquitoes away from their yard. While there are several home remedies that can help to repel mosquitoes and reduce the itchiness of their bites, the best approach is to keep these pests away in the first place.
As previously mentioned, you can make it difficult for mosquitoes to live and breed near your home by:
- Keeping your lawn, bushes and other vegetation cut short
- Eliminating pools of standing water
- Turning on fans indoors and outdoors
- Securely closing doors and windows, and making sure there are no holes in screens
Additionally, with the knowledge that mosquitoes seem to prefer people wearing darker clothes, you can potentially prevent mosquito bites by wearing lighter, loose-fitting clothing. It’s also typically recommended that you avoid exercising during the peak mosquito times for your area, as you emit more carbon dioxide and you release more lactic acid when you’re exercising.
As far as mosquito repellents, DEET-containing insect repellent products are considered to be the most effective at protecting against mosquito bites. However, for those who prefer more natural products, some studies have shown that repellents containing lemon eucalyptus oil as their active ingredient have been found to repel mosquitoes for some individuals.
Some people also believe that mosquito repellent plants like lavender, rosemary and scented geraniums in their gardens provide some natural mosquito repellent, although these have not been proven to be effective in the fight against mosquitoes unless the leaves are crushed to release their oils. Citronella candles are another natural favorite for repelling these pests, which also have unproven effectiveness. In addition to citronella, there are other studies that have attempted to answer the question of what smells mosquitoes hate.
As far as treating mosquito bites once they have occurred, favorite home remedies include using cold packs or applying a baking soda paste to the bite site to reduce itching. It’s also important to avoid scratching, since scratching the bite could lead to a secondary infection.
In the end, the best home remedy for mosquitoes is a pest control treatment plan created by a licensed professional. A mosquito control specialist can also make all the difference in recommending appropriate treatments for your home and yard that will meet your family’s specific needs, so you can have peace of mind when you spend time in your outdoor space.
ABC Can Make Spending Time in Your Yard Enjoyable
Dealing with a mosquito problem on your own can feel like a never-ending battle. Mosquitoes are capable of laying eggs in even the smallest amounts of water, which means that it is impossible to eliminate every potential mosquito breeding area around your home and yard. When you contact ABC Home & Commercial Services for mosquito control, you can feel comforted knowing that we have a variety of pest control options that work to keep mosquito populations low as well as prevent the next generation of mosquitoes. With ABC’s help, you can enjoy your outdoor spaces again.