Debbie Hadley wrote a humorous piece, for www.thoughtcompany.com, that I really enjoyed. It describes 10 things you can do if you WANT to attract mosquitoes. Really?
Here’s a synopsis. It’s all about wearing the right clothes, doing the right things and smelling just right. She suggests you simply: keep breathing, mosquitoes love CO2; do lots of exercise and sweat profusely; don’t change your socks and certainly don’t shower!
Dark clothes might make you look a bit Goth, but the skitters love the look, especially if you favour blue tones. If you’re tired of being stinky try being smelly, wear perfume, as much as you can. And, in case your lactic acid levels are depressed, mosquitoes love this stuff, wear skin lotions containing alpha hydroxy to keep all the mosquitoes happy. Finally, she suggests you drink beer and eat limburger cheese to be the ultimate mosquito attracter. Excellent!
Now here’s some more nifty stuff you might not know about mosquitoes.
They’re not newcomers to the world. They first emerged in the Jurassic period, so they've had plenty of time developing into the annoying pests that they are. Over 3,500 different mosquitoes species occur worldwide. Want to avoid these little guys? Go to West Virginia, it has the fewest species. On the bad side, a female can lay 300 eggs at a time but she only lives for 2 months, so that means she can produce about 900 offspring in her lifetime! That’s hardly any right?
Most mosquitoes stay close to home and rarely travel more than a few hundred meters from where they were born. The fastest mosquito can fly about 2.4 km/hr. but most move more slowly, and all seem to be able to outrun the average cottager!
Mosquitoes don’t actually bite, but rather have a proboscis, which has serrated edges to tear the skin, and then they suck up the blood through this hollow appendage. The bite of a mosquito leaves a bump on your skin, caused by the insect’s saliva. While the mosquito sucks blood, an anti-coagulant and painkiller is being applied to the skin, to ensure we don’t feel pain until after the harm is done and to ensure the blood flows freely. Very clever! They’re thirsty little critters and can drink up to 3 times their body weight at one feeding. One researcher calculated it would take 1.2 million bites to kill you. Great!
Some myths dispelled: Contrary to some beliefs, mosquitoes do not transmit HIV, but they can carry many viruses such as Dengue Fever, Zika and Malaria. Bats and Purple Martins don’t eat many mosquitoes, primarily because the mosquitoes are too small and they fly at much lower altitudes than the foraging bats and martins. While very few birds or mammals search out these critters, dragonflies and fish eat more than enough to control these annoying little beasts. Remember, UV light mosquito traps and electrical zappers do NOT work and cause more harm to desirable species than to the mosquitoes. Why? Because mosquitoes are not attracted to these devices but many beneficial moths and beetles are.
My wife said I should say something nice about the mosquitoes, because after all everything in Nature has a purpose ... Couldn’t think of anything to say, sorry! So there you are … are you ready for spring? For me I’m going back to my musings.
Geoff Carpentier is a published author, ecotour guide and environmental consultant. Visit Geoff on-line, at www.avocetnatureservices.com and on LinkedIn and Facebook.