Mosquitoes are out all over the United States, and they are sucking the blood out of any warm or cold-blooded creature they can find.
They can be incredibly annoying, and some people think they especially vulnerable to these buzzing bugs. But how much do you really know about them?
Here are a few myths about the mosquito and a few tips for dealing with them that we first picked up from the Wall Street Journal.
1. Mosquitoes aren’t biting you because you have “sweet blood.”
This is a common misperception, but mosquitoes cannot taste blood quality or its “sweetness.” They do, however, hunt by their sense of smell, and are attracted to the various smells emitted by bacteria and other “flora and fauna” that live on our skin, which can differ from person to person and over time.
2. Diabetes, high cholesterol, medications and vitamins, or even a diet high in garlic (probably) won’t prevent a mosquito bite.
At least we have no scientific reason to believe any of these conditions/cures will work. We won’t stop you from trying these folk remedies out, but any claims that any of the above methods are “clinically proven” are suspect.
The only things that could work are 1. over-the-counter allergy medication (an anti-histamine) and an insect repellent containing DEET.
Anti-histamines can be effective in reducing the itchiness of mosquitoes, but are not meant to be taken everyday. People with serious reactions to bites can consider it, but they should consult their physicians first.
3. You can develop an ‘immunity’ to mosquitoes.
It is not terribly common, but Vanderbilt University mosquito researcher L.J. Zwiebel has become immune to the bites. He told The Wall Street Journal:
After 20 years in labs with the biting bugs, Dr. Zwiebel says he can stick his arm into a container of mozzies and be bit hundreds of times, yet “not have a hair out of place.”
In response to a mosquito’s bite, your body usually reacts to the saliva by releasing antibodies that create the small, itchy welt. Over time it develops a tolerance, and stops reacting because it stops recognising the mosquito saliva as a foreign invader.
Which next, brings us to…..
4. Don’t Scratch the welt!
Scratching may momentarily relieve the itch, but scratching a mosquito bite also spreads the saliva and encourages the body to release more histamine antibodies, making everything worse in the long run.
Some final tips:
Get a bug net if you go camping or sleep outside, run an outdoor fan near where you sit to discourage the insects from congregating, and swash yourself with an anti-bacterial soap. The last one will wash off a lot of the bacteria that attract mosquitoes to you in the first place.
You can also stay inside during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most plentiful, and wear long sleeves and pants whenever it is comfortable enough to do so.
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