Fight the bite of mosquitoes

By Rick Garrison, BS - Environmental Health Director, FCPH

As I have mentioned before, I love summer. Summer means more time outdoors, however because of work through the week, time outdoors is spent early in the mornings or afternoon and evenings, also known as crepuscular. There are crepuscular active insects in and around Washington C.H., Ohio, and the world. These little creatures are mosquitoes. The word mosquito originates from Spanish for the little fly. There are 2,700 species of mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes can transmit disease

Mosquitoes live for an average of two to three weeks and feed many times. Often these blood meals include you and I. A mosquito only weighs 1/25,000 of an ounce and it is very hard to sense it landing on the body. Only the females need a blood meal in order to lay eggs. She uses her proboscis which has six elongated probes or ridged tubes to puncture the skin. The mosquito has an anticoagulant to keep the blood from thickening and she feeds on the blood like a milkshake through a straw. The mosquitoes hunt for a host by sensing carbon dioxide emissions from our bodies.

Many mosquitoes are infected with viruses such as Anopheles ( Malaria) yellow fever and dengue (Aedes aegypti). the Eastern Equine Encephalitis, La Crosse, St. Louis Encephalitis, West Nile, and many other viruses which can be transferred to humans.

Protect yourself from exposure

There are ways you can mitigate your exposure to mosquitoes. The first way is insect repellent. I spray exposed skin, especially the area around the ears and neck. Long sleeve shirts and pants can also be worn to deter insects. B-1 vitamin is water-soluble and should be taken several days before going into the woods. Garlic in foods and apple cider on the skin is also a deterrent. Citronella candles, peppermint vanilla, bay, and sassafras are other alternatives to repel mosquitoes. Tansy and basil can be placed around windows and patios and doorways. Mosquitoes and ants are repelled by them. Mosquito traps can be made by placing a bucket of water outside with a good amount of dishwashing liquid in the water this will cause the mosquito unable to fly.

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water and won’t travel far from bodies of water. Know that it is also helpful to examine your local surrounding and eliminate anything that contains stagnant water such as cans, holes in trees, buckets, and containers of many kinds including tires. Tires should be disposed of in a licensed landfill. It also helps to clean clogged downspouts. Repair leaky faucets and cover boats.

The city of Washington C.H. does spray for mosquitoes throughout the summer. This is a great help in controlling the insects. Remember enjoy the summer just be careful knowing that summertime is when many insects are active and looking for an opportunity to feed.

By Rick Garrison, BS

Environmental Health Director, FCPH