The list of the Top Ten deadliest animals contains a few that are obvious such as the polar bear, cobra, great white shark, and crocodile- but the number one spot is held by the tiny little mosquito.
Due to malaria carrying parasites transferred by the mosquito, it is responsible for the deaths of more than two million people per year. In addition, mosquitoes are estimated to transfer diseases to more than 70 million people per year. Even in countries where the more temperate climate has reduced mosquito bites to mostly an annoyance, they still cause some deaths every year.
So how do we avoid being bitten? You need to hide from the little bugger! It’s not so much that we want to repel them, we don’t want them to find us in the first place.
One of the most effective ways to keep mosquitoes at bay is a spray that contains DEET.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers compared several types of mosquito repellents head-to-head in laboratory tests.
“OFF! Deep Woods” repellent, a product containing about 24% DEET, fared the best. Its protection lasted an average of five hours. The least effective products were wristbands treated with DEET or citronella, which offered almost no protection. According to the researchers, this wasn’t a surprise. It’s known that mosquito repellent only works on the surface to which it’s applied directly. Mosquitoes are happy to bite skin only four centimeters away from the repellent slick.
I had always thought that DEET was unsafe, but it does have an excellent safety record. N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide doesn’t sound like something you’d want to spray on your skin, and and maybe it reminds people of DDT, a very dangerouss and banned chemical, but they are nothing alike.
The Environmental Protection Agency must approve all pesticides used in the U.S., and although DEET isn’t a pesticide by definition because it does not kill insects, the EPA does test it. DEET is safe WHEN USED CORRECTLY- read the label and follow all directions. DEET is also safe for children 2 months and older but do not allow youngsters to apply it themselves.
If you are looking for a natural alternative, many people swear by Avon’s Skin So Soft. However, studies show that it is effective for about 10 minutes. Other natural products such as soybean oil sprays and lotions last about 90 minutes.
What about the gadgets?
Citronella candles have been used since 1882 as a means of drawing mosquitoes away from people, but one study shows that they’re not much more effective than plain candles, which also give off heat, carbon dioxide, and moisture.
And unplug the bug zapper- it doesn’t work on mosquitoes and will kill beneficial bugs in your yard.
The best way to keep swarms of mosquitoes from descending on your backyard barbecue is to get rid of standing water, where mosquitoes lay their eggs.
Some mosquito species lay eggs directly in stagnant water. Others lay eggs in containers — a tree hollow, a birdbath, a kiddie pool, etc. — above the water line. Then, when it rains, the eggs are submerged and they hatch. In order to get rid of the eggs, you need to scrub the container, whether it is a bird bath or kiddie pool- just dumping the water does not dislodge the eggs.
So- how do you relieve the itch if that mosquito feasts on you? Here are a few unusual tips to try!