It’s a nice summer evening and your young children are running around outside while the sun slowly goes down. It’s getting dark so you call them inside to get them ready for bed but you notice something as they walk through the door: They are constantly itching their bare legs, arms, and necks. As you look closer, you see red, swollen bumps. Who could be the culprits for such annoying, itchy bites? Mosquitoes.
Since most Americans have experienced the annoying, itchy bite of a mosquito and they seem to be ever-present at summer evening activities, it is important to learn about the insect and their bites. Why do mosquitoes bite in the first place? Why do their bites itch and swell? Most importantly, how do you reduce the number of mosquitoes surrounding your home? These questions and more will be answered to help you through this mosquito-filled summer.
Why do mosquitoes bite?
Blood does not actually provide survival for mosquitoes. Rather, blood is drawn to aid the development of mosquito eggs. The protein within the blood provides necessities for egg growth and maturation that nectar and other common mosquito food does not provide. Therefore, only the females bite for blood since the males have no reason to do so.
What happens when a mosquito bites?
When a mosquito bites, it inserts its protruding, thin mouth part into the skin while releasing her saliva into the wound. The mosquito’s saliva contains an anticoagulant which allows the blood to flow easily while also ensuring the host is unaware of her feeding.
What do mosquito bites look like?
Mosquito bites come in the form of red, swollen, and itchy bumps on the skin. However, they do not look identical on every person, since people are allergic to the mosquito saliva at varying degrees. You especially find mosquito bites where the skin is exposed, creating an easy access for the mosquitoes, namely arms and legs.
Why do mosquito bites itch and swell?
Our body has a natural immune response to the foreign mosquito saliva that is embedded in the body when the mosquito bites. Our body suffers a mild allergic reaction to the saliva and to combat it, it releases a histamine. As a result the area around the bite becomes inflamed and the blood vessels begin to swell, irritating the nerves, and resulting in the bite becoming itchy.
How many times can a mosquito bite?
The female mosquito will continue to feed on blood until the abdomen is full. There is no limit on how many times she can bite. After enough blood has been consumed, she takes a break for 2-3 days before laying her eggs. But have you ever been bitten by one mosquito more than once? Why would she not just bite once to get her fill? Studies say that the mosquito most likely does not finish her feeding in one bite because she was interrupted by something. That interruption would most likely be too much movement by the host or the mosquito attempting several times to find the best vein to get the blood from.
How do you treat mosquito bites?
These following tips are a must to help the mosquito bite heal quicker and prevent infection:
- Clean the bite area with soap and water
- Cover it with an ice pack: Ice-cold items will reduce swelling immediately
- Take anti-histamines: Whether they are oral or creams, taking these will reduce the itchiness and swelling
- Do not scratch: Scratching increases the chance of opening the wound and leading it to infection
These natural remedies for mosquito bites can be found around your home. Put an end to those itchy days and continue to enjoy the summer.
- Toothpaste: The menthol flavor from the toothpaste is a cooling agent for the irritated area.
- Honey: Honey is a natural antibiotic so put some honey on your bite!
- Banana Peel: You may think this is a myth, but a banana peel’s natural oils will relax itchy areas. Rub the banana peel with the flesh side down to provide some relief.
Preventive Tips to Control Mosquitoes
- Replace Outdoor Lights: Mosquitoes are attracted to light. However, a special type of light bulb called “bug lights” emit a different wavelength of light that is not as attractive to insects as other light bulbs.
- Shield Yourself: If you are outdoors, especially during hours between dusk and sunrise, wear closed-toed shoes and socks to protect your feet and ankles from bites. For additional protection, wear insect repellent containing DEET.
- Reduce Habitat: Reduce the presence of standing water around your home. Empty any buckets, containers, or kiddie pools containing water. Also, frequently refill birdbaths and fountains, while also cleaning out your home’s gutters to reduce standing water.
- Target Mosquito Larvae: For areas that have ponds or ditches in your yard, environment-friendly mosquito larvicides can be directly applied to water sources containing mosquito larvae in order to kill them.
Even after taking these preventive steps, mosquitoes may still be present around your home. It is difficult to completely eliminate the presence of adult mosquitoes, but our professionals are trained to know where they are hiding and treat your home accordingly. Our monthly treatment throughout the mosquito season will significantly reduce the existence of mosquitoes infesting your yard. Don’t hesitate to call (630) 451-8101.