Keep those pesky mozzies at bay and enjoy an itch-free summer. Summer is coming and so are the mosquitoes. There are plenty of myths and misconceptions about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to beating the bite of backyard mosquitoes.
Dr Cameron Webb, Medical Entomologist at University of Sydney and NSW Health Pathology, takes what science has found about the breeding and biting behaviour of our local mosquitoes and tells you what you can do to protect your family this season. It’s important to protect yourself from mosquitoes not just to prevent annoying itchy bites, but to stop the spread of diseases that they can carry.
1. Pick the right repellent
A topical insect repellent, especially one that contains diethyltoluamide (DEET) or picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, will provide the longest lasting protection. Repellents containing plant extracts such as citronella or tea tree oil, will need to be applied far more frequently to protect against bites. When it comes to repellents, a dab “here and there” isn’t enough to stop the bites. Apply insect repellent as a thin covering on all exposed areas of skin for the most effective protection.
2. Brighten up your summer
Mosquitoes seem to like dark colours, especial dark blue. If you’re planning a fishing trip or bushwalk, opt for paler colours, they won’t repel mosquitoes but perhaps a few less mozzies will chase you down.
3. Danger lays at dusk and dawn
Most mosquitoes will be looking for blood throughout the night but from late afternoon through until early evening is when you really need to protect your family.
4. Fill your pot plant saucers with sand
You don’t need your plants to suffer when stopping mosquito breeding. Fill pot plant saucers with sand, it traps moisture but stops water sloshing about that mosquitoes would otherwise breed in.
5. Beers could lead to bites
There is nothing you can eat or drink to stop mosquito bites but studies have shown that drinking beer can make you more of a target for mosquitoes! Only problem is, giving up the grog won’t keep them away either.
6. Switch on a fan
Moving the air about will help hide you from mosquitoes. It will disrupt their flight and disperse the carbon dioxide you’re exhaling (that’s the key for mosquitoes to find someone to bite)
7. You don’t have to turn on the blue light
Electrocuting light traps don’t kill too many mosquitoes. Unlike moths and lots of other insects, mosquitoes aren’t attracted to light, they’ll stay away.
8. Smartphone apps aren’t so smart
Some smartphone apps claim to repel mozzies with high frequency sounds but there is no evidence that sound will protect you from bites. Switch off those apps, you’re probably just annoying your friends!
9. Stinky cheese and smelly feet
Scientists have demonstrated that some mosquitoes are attracted to Limburger cheese. The cheese’s notoriously stinky aroma is caused by bacteria, coincidently a similar bacteria to that found between our toes! Opting for shoes rather than thongs may block access those bacterial aromas.
10. Water, water everywhere with mozzies soon to come
Tides flooding coastal wetlands and rain filling backyard containers will trigger a hatch of mosquito eggs. Mosquitoes will be out in force biting about ten days after “king tides” or major downpours of rain.