Mosquitoes are one of the most irritating pests, but they’re also one of the deadliest. Some species of mosquito carry potentially dangerous diseases like dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus, and zika virus that spread through their bites. While many of these diseases are not a problem in Utah, you’ll probably still want to know what attracts mosquitoes and how to deter them.
Factors that Influence Mosquito Attraction
Blood type and Body heat
Mosquitoes tend to be attracted to people with type O blood, but other factors play a role as well. Body heat is one of the primary factors that determines whether mosquitoes will be attracted to you. For example, pregnant women and taller people tend to give off more body heat, so they are more likely to be a mosquito target.
The amount of carbon dioxide you emit goes along with body heat to make you a more attractive target. If you’re emitting more carbon dioxide than the people around you, mosquitoes can easily determine your location and target you. This makes people who are exercising a prime subject for bites.
Additionally, exercising people sweat a lot, which activates bacteria on the skin and causes odors and moisture that also attract mosquitoes. Foot odors and bacteria are especially enticing for mosquitoes—that’s why people often find bites on their ankles!
Flowery perfume and Alcohol
Unfortunately, flowery perfumes can have the same magnetic effect on mosquitoes as a bad body odor, so choose your perfume wisely! Another contributor to mosquito attraction is alcohol. One study found that people were more likely to attract mosquitoes directly after drinking alcohol as opposed to water.
Naturally, avoiding excessive sweating, keeping your body clean, avoiding alcohol, and wearing bug repellent that contains DEET can help reduce your chances of being bitten. However, nothing can completely guarantee that you’ll be bite-free, so you’ll want to know how to soothe bites when they occur.
Why Mosquito Bites Itch and How to Soothe Them
Mosquito bites are itchy because when mosquitos draw blood out, they inject a saliva-type irritant into the area. Some people have allergic reactions to mosquito bites and develop a rash, but most people only suffer from a small, itchy bump when bitten.
You can help alleviate itchiness from a mosquito bite by washing the bite with warm water and soap and then applying an anti-itch cream to the area. You can also apply a baking soda paste or some aloe vera gel to help soothe the skin around the bite.
Mosquitoes’ Redeeming Qualities
Most people are so annoyed by mosquito bites that they can’t imagine mosquitoes might be good for something. As it turns out, mosquitoes are an important food source for other insects and some small animals. Predators of mosquitoes include dragonflies, birds, bats, frogs, etc. Interestingly, mosquito hawks (or rather, crane flies) were originally pinned as mosquito predators because they look like giant versions of mosquitoes, but they actually prefer nectar and don’t eat mosquitoes at all.
Mosquitoes are also pollinators and feed primarily on nectar, sap, and other sticky, sweet substances, rather than blood. Female mosquitoes need to consume the protein and nutrients contained in blood to lay eggs, but males don’t even bite. So, the next time a mosquito bites you, just remember that you’re helping more pollinators to live.
Mosquitoes aren’t picky and will bite almost any animal, especially large ones. In fact, most species of mosquitoes aren’t interested in human blood at all, so it’s relatively easy to deter them from your yard.
How to Deter Mosquitoes
You can follow these steps to naturally repel mosquitoes from your yard this year:
- Frequently clear away standing water.
- Reduce places in your yard where water tends to collect.
- Introduce plants to your garden that mosquitoes hate.
- Use cedar mulch in your flowerbeds.
- Use professional pest control to help create a barrier.
Frequently Clear Away Standing Water in Your Yard
Mosquitoes are attracted to stagnant water and consistently moist soil. This is where females like to lay their eggs. Be sure to frequently empty birdbaths and clean other places where water collects because doing so will help prevent mosquitoes from breeding in those places.
Reduce Places in Your Yard Where Water Tends to Collect
Mosquitoes like to hide in moist places, so junk piles and tall weeds or grass are prime spots. Eliminate mosquito hiding spots:
- Remove any junk or garbage from your yard—especially items that easily collect rainwater.
- Trim your lawn. Mosquitoes love hiding in overgrown grass.
- Pull weeds (especially tall ones).
Introduce Plants to Your Garden that Mosquitoes Hate
Even if you eliminate all potential mosquito breeding areas in your yard, the pesky insects can still invade from neighbors’ yards or from a nearby body of water. To prevent mosquitoes from entering your yard, introduce plants that they hate and avoid:
- Lemon balm
- Lemon thyme
Citronella candles are becoming more popular and can effectively repel mosquitoes. You can also spray citronella or citrus oils on your skin to repel mosquitoes.
Put Cedar Mulch in Your Flowerbeds
Another scent that repels mosquitoes is cedar. Use cedar mulch in your flowerbeds to help repel mosquitoes and to prevent them from laying their eggs in the moist soil of your garden. Cedar mulch also helps repel other obnoxious pests like moths and cockroaches.
Use Pest Control to Help Create a Barrier
Pest control options are only effective if the mosquitoes come into contact with the chemicals. For this reason, pest control sprays cannot be guaranteed to completely eliminate mosquitoes from your yard. However, when combined with the control options mentioned above, they can be very effective.
Stewart’s pest control sprays kill mosquitoes (along with spiders, ants, wasps, and other bugs) that come in contact with the product. To check out our Bug Barrier Program, call or text 801-226-2261 today for a free quote.