The Mosquito - those blood hungry vectors of disease

Mosquitoes (also spelled mosquitos), those tenacious mosquitos!

The females of the species are those warm weather mini-vampires that keep us swatting, spraying ourselves with bug spray, spraying our yards and setting up mosquito traps, spraying our clothes with permethrin, wearing mosquito nets over our heads and mosquito bars around our beds, and even bring governments to bear in fumigating them to win the war on vector-borne disease.  But, wow, are those pesky blood-sucking vectors resilient!  They somehow show back up every spring after the harshest winters and we start the cycle all over again.  The fact is that they have a system for their annual rebound that keeps us victims looking for the better ways to keep them at bay around our backyard gatherings, our days on the lake, our camping ventures, and walks in the woods.  And when they are bad, they are oh so bad.  You may get to the place in the summer that you think the mosquito population seems to always be winning the battles! 

The female mosquito feeding for her legacy

One thing we all learned in the military is that in any conflict, you really need to get to know your enemy.  In this case, the mosquito is our enemy force, so let’s learn a little about who they are, how they rebound every year, why they bite us, and how to best defeat them.

Beyond the side-effect that we experience that looks like a red bump and itches like crazy, what’s the big deal about mosquitoes that we should know?  Well, we’re so glad you asked!  Here are some important facts that each of us should understand about the arthropod called the mosquito.  Let’s look at some of the most often asked questions by anyone searching on the internet for mosquito answers.

Mosquito pupa

What are mosquitos attracted to?

Great first question!  The attractant that draws that bloodsucker to a victim is carbon dioxide!  She smells it in humans and animals.  You are probably wondering why this is a “she” – it’s because it’s only the female of the species that needs to consume blood.  She needs a blood meal to lay eggs!  There are certain other tell-tale signals that she focuses on, based on her experience, to find that blood-meal.  The mosquito will pick up on perspiration, heat, odor, and even darker colored clothes.  All of these are part of the carbon dioxide footprint that leads her to blood.

Why me lady mosquito?

So why are mosquitos attracted to me?

To take the first answer a bit further, a mosquito can smell the initial sweat that we produce through the eccrine sweat glands all over our body, before sweat turns into any kind of odor that a human can smell.  She has super sensors that lead her to the smell of the ammonia and lactic acid in our sweat as well.

What smell do mosquitoes love?

Aside from the smell of your sweat and smelly feet, they really do like floral scents.  Mosquitos seem to be attracted to moisturizing lotions, deodorants, perfumes, and floral scented soaps. There are a few plants they don’t like, which will be in a later question, so keep reading!

Do mosquitos bite at night?

Well, yes, they certainly will! They actually tend to prefer dusk and dawn most of the time, but I can tell you  as a personal eye-witness that a mosquito will bite you at any time of day.

Do mosquitos bite ankles?

They sure do!  They actually are quite attracted to the odor of a sweaty, stinky foot!  Once they find the odor on the animal or human, they will bite you where they land and can get to your skin.

Do mosquitoes like pregnant people?

Pregnant women do generally have a higher metabolic rate than nonpregnant women as they exhale more carbon dioxide than nonpregnant women.  And as we know, carbon dioxide is the bread crumb trail to the victim with the blood! 

How long do mosquito bites stay on your body?

Most of us will notice the bite within about 20 minutes of being bitten. The itching usually peaks within 24-48 hours and normally disappears over 3-4 days.

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Some natural ways to repel a mosquito

What are mosquitos afraid of?

Well, we definitely haven’t talked to any mosquitos about their fears, but we do know some things they are not attracted to.  They are not too fond of peppermint, citronella, lavender, lemongrass, catnip, cedar, cinnamon, and patchouli, sage, rosemary, citrosum, lemon balm, and basil.

What kind of soap repels mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes hate the smell of lemons and any citrus based smell. Citronella lemon soap will definitely be a great option to help fend off those pesky mosquitoes.

What drinks repel mosquitoes?

As we saw before, mosquitos are not fond of lemongrass as it contains citronella oil.  It might be time to find yourself a good lemongrass tea to make your drink of choice in the warmer months when you are trying to repel mosquitos.  You can also just rub lemongrass oil on your skin!

What color clothing repels mosquitos?

First of all, color alone will not deter the mosquito, but they do have some preferences in colors.  Lighter colors are best to wear to deter mosquitos, like white, green, or blue. Mosquitos really like the darker colors like navy blue, red, orange, or black.  

Mosquito biting through clothing

Speaking of clothes, do mosquitos bite through clothes?

Absolutely!  Mosquitos can bite through clothes; however, they are more likely to bite exposed skin.  They can pierce fabric to reach your hidden blood vessels! Mosquitoes are more likely to attack exposed skin but can still pierce through covered areas to reach your hidden blood vessels. Looser fitting clothes are a better deterrent for mosquitos. 

Why mosquito bites itch

Why do my mosquito bites get so big?

The mosquito injects saliva into your skin when she is feeding on you.  The mosquito’s saliva serves as an anticoagulant to protect her from getting clogged with blood clots as she feeds. The human body basically has an allergic reaction to the saliva which causes the itchy bump, caused by histamines trying to fight off the protein left by mosquito. While some people have a mild reaction to mosquito bites, some have stronger reactions with redness, soreness and swelling.

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A mosquito eats until she is full

How many times can a mosquito bite you?

There really isn’t a number.  She will continue to feed until she is full, no matter how many bits it takes!  She will consume enough blood for her to be able to lay her eggs, and only she knows how much she will need to do that.  The mosquito will feed until she’s full and then rest 2-3 days before laying her eggs.

What eats most mosquitoes?

There are, thankfully, some natural mosquito predators out there: The Gambusia Affinis is also known as the mosquitofish, Purple Martin, Bats, Dragonflies, and Damselflies.

A mosquito's purpose

Do mosquitoes serve any positive purpose?

Well, yes, they do serve a positive purpose!  Mosquitos are pollinators. This is why they are attracted to those floral scents.  Aside from the blood-meal that the female needs for laying eggs, their primary food source is flower nectar, not blood. They pollinate like bees and butterflies, flower by flower, feeding on nectar and transferring pollen as they go, ultimately fertilizing plants and impacting their ability to form seeds and reproduce.

What stops a mosquito?

How do you stop mosquitoes from biting you?

Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, wear shoes, avoid the floral scents and perfumes, surround yourself with lemongrass plants, peppermint, and other deterrents.  And finally, use insect repellent!  In the realm of insect repellents, the most useful are those with Picaridin, DEET, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), Para-menthane-diol (PMD), 2-undecanone, IR3535, among others.

What kills mosquitoes?

While repellents don’t kill mosquitos, there are some methods to actually kill them.  Use indoor insect fogger or indoor insect spray to kill mosquitoes and to treat any areas where they are resting. These products are known to work immediately but will likely require re-application. Make sure to always follow label directions for insecticides. You should recognize, however, that only using insecticide will not make you mosquito free.  You will need to remove their habitat by prevent standing water places, in which to lay their eggs. Wetlands with standing water like marshes, swamps, clogged ditches, temporary pools and puddles are all prolific mosquito breeding sites. Other sites you might not have considered before are places like tree holes, tire swings, buckets, outdoor toys, potted plant trays, plastic covers or tarpaulins.  Any place, even as small as a bottle cap that has standing water is a perfect home for the mosquito eggs!

An infamous vector of diseases

Mosquitos are vectors of disease!

After all the fun questions that people search for about mosquitos on the internet, there is one piece that we feel we need to share with you to keep you soberly aware of the need to be purposeful in repelling mosquitos from yourself and your family and friends.  The bottom line is that mosquitos are vectors which are responsible in the transmission of some serious diseases and viruses such as malaria, dengue virus, Zika and West Nile virus, among others.  These can lead to disabling and potentially deadly results.  We share this to keep you informed and with the hope that you will take care to protect yourself and your loved ones. 

The Ballistic Difference

Picaridin based Ballistic Insect Repellent

We hope this information is helpful to you, even if it answers just one of your questions about mosquitos.  We believe that we have the best Picaridin-based insect Repellent in production, and we hope that you will try out Ballistic Insect Repellent and let us know what you think!  And please pass the word to your friends and family!

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