Mosquitoes: Fight the Bite & Take Back The Night

By Jon P. Frieda, VP Marketing and Sales for Neels Pharmacy

Every year people ask us questions like, “What is it about me that attracts mosquitoes? Are there safe and effective ways to decrease my likelihood of attracting mosquitoes?” This edited article will highlight mosquito harvesting habits, diseases and parasites that are spread, and what you can do to prevent mosquito bites. There are about 3500 species of mosquitoes around the world today. Throughout the Midwest, over 45 species have been identified. In need of protein from the blood of their hosts, only the female mosquito bites, in order to lay eggs and continue to multiply. Both the male and female are equipped to pierce the skin of plants and animals, but they actually feed on the nectar and juices of plants.

Some species of mosquitoes prefer to feed on only mammalian hosts, introducing infectious diseases and parasites to millions of humans and animals worldwide every year. Mosquitoes are the main carrier of heartworm larvae that infect and kill innumerable dogs every day. Moreover, research has confirmed that mosquitos are just as serious a threat to infecting humans with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, or Lyme disease. If a tick infects an animal with Lyme disease and a mosquito in turn sucks the blood of that animal and then a human, the human can then be infected with the pathogen as well.

Interestingly however, as carriers, mosquitoes can transmit these pathogens to people, dogs, cats, and others, without ever acquiring the disease themselves. The pathogens are harmless to the mosquito, whose immune system recognizes them as invaders and breaks down their genetic coding. The infection to humans and animals occurs if they are bitten during or before the time that the genetic coding is completely broken down by the mosquitoes’ immune system.

Mosquitoes are attracted by body odor, skin temperature, CO2 production, and colors. People get eaten alive when they take the family dog for its evening walk, or out grilling and enjoying a beer in the backyard. Strenuous activity and sweating are two things that will guarantee that mosquitoes will find you to be a favored host. CO2 is the main signal to a female mosquito that a potential victim is close by. From up to 160 feet away, once she detects the CO2 in the air, she flies back and forth through it until the host is located.

Mosquitoes are particularly attracted by scents. Perfumes, cologne, scented liquid soaps, lotions, deodorants and hairsprays will all increase your odds of getting mosquito bites. Mosquitos are also attracted to people who produce excess amounts of uric acid. Consider this; the two most prominent factors that influence uric acid production are the consumption of animal protein, especially red meat, and drinking beer. Let the summer begin!

As far as clothing, mosquitoes have an easier time seeing dark colors than light colors. If you are going to be attending an outdoor event, light colored clothing may also make you a less attractive target.

If it were possible to eradicate all mosquitoes, most humans would likely applaud it. Unfortunately, global eradication of mosquitoes could have a devastating effect on the world ecosystem. Mosquito larvae are a protein rich food source for fish and other aquatic life, and mature mosquitoes are an equally nutritious food source for birds, bats and spiders, all of which are integral to maintaining planet Earths’ ecosystem.

In addition to the above, discourage mosquitos from being attracted to you by taking Vitamin B1, thiamine, about 30 minutes before going outside, 50mg for children, 100mg for adults. Mosquitoes do not like the smell of the Vitamin B1 as it is emitted by the pores of your skin. While there are studies out there that have concluded that Vitamin B1 is ineffective against warding off mosquitoes, I’ve been doing it almost all my life and have had relatively few mosquito bites. In addition, make a habit of supplementing with more Vitamin C. Among the over 300 functions that Vitamin C is involved with in the human body, lowering uric acid is one of them. In short, turn the tables on the insidious little vectors and make your scent less attractive.

For the full newsletter, which is jam packed with more fascinating information on this topic and others, please contact Jon P. Frieda at Neels Pharmacy. 314-849-3123.