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Zap those Mosquitoes

How do mosquitoes find you?

Mosquitoes have an uncanny sense of smell and can zero in on you from 100 feet away. They are attracted to carbon dioxide which is your breath and lactic acid which is found in sweat.

They breed and lay eggs in stagnant water or muddy places where their larvae can hatch and flourish. Favorite places are storm drains, fish and retention ponds, septic tanks or most any container that holds water.

Mosquitoes feed on nectar, plant juices and wet decaying vegetation. The females are very aggressive and are the ones that bite because they need a blood meal in order to produce eggs.

Not only do they deliver a painful bite, but can be the source of severe allergic reactions and various illnesses such as the West Nile virus. They are known carriers of several diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, encephalitis and others. In addition, they also transmit heartworm to wild and domestic animals and pets including cats and dogs. That is why it is so important to put your pets on heartworm preventive medication.

In order to help reduce the mosquito population around your home, eliminate all sources of standing water. Some common places you might not think about are clogged gutters, bird baths, uncovered rain barrels, old tires or buckets sitting around your yard.

Although some communities have mosquito control programs using tanker trucks or even planes to spray chemicals, no lasting method of extermination exists. One primary reason mosquitoes are so difficult to eliminate is because they quickly develop resistance or immunity to pesticides. This is why backyard sprays and foggers including the so-called zappers are largely useless. They kill off more beneficial insects than mosquitoes.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

There are plenty of chemical based mosquito repellents available in drugstores and supermarkets. Of those, products containing 20% or more of DEET seem to be the most effective and safest to use on your skin.

Some people claim a solution of vanilla extract or even dish soap in water will repel mosquitoes when applied to exposed areas. Another favorite home remedy is Avon skin so soft. Fabric softener dryer sheets such as Bounce are said to repel them as well when rubbed on your skin.

To stop itching from mosquito bites, try treating with the juice from a cut onion. A paste consisting of water and baking soda supposedly relieves the pain.

As a contact spray, keep a can of fly and mosquito insecticide handy or use rubbing alcohol mixed in water to spray and kill individuals that invade your living area.

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