by Alison Dorf
With summer and monsoon season fast-approaching, the familiar buzzing of pesky mosquitoes will only get louder...and if you're like me, you've already been dealing with annoying bites for the last month.
What's even worse than waking up with chomped-on toes and itchy ankles — especially when someone in the same household as you never gets bitten.
So why do mosquitoes love munching on some people more than others?
Studies have shown that it is not our smell or sweetness that attract the little critters, but certain characteristics such as blood type, chemical markers emitted from our skin, pregnancy, alcohol and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from your breath.
According to one study, people with Blood Type O are significantly more likely to be bitten.
Alcohol can also play a major role according to this study, which says that mosquitoes are significantly more likely to bite those who have ingested alcohol compared with those who have not — and those are just a few examples.
Not only are mosquito bites downright nasty, they're a big health concern. The more bites a person receives, the more likely they will contract a mosquito-borne illness, in which case it is crucial to exercise proper precaution and care — including using the right bug spray and mosquito-proofing your yard.
There are more than 40 species of mosquitos in Arizona, according to the University of Arizona College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, and some can fly 20 miles or more.
Mosquito repellents including DEET seem to be most effective. In one consumer report published last summer, the top repellents included Off Deep Woods Sportsman II, Cutter Backwoods Unscented, Off FamilyCare Smooth & Dry and 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent 8.
These products all contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide). The repellents were tested by having the tester place their arms in a mosquito-filled cage and measuring the time it took for a mosquito to bite. After eight entire hours - I can't imagine putting my arm in a mosquito-filled cage for even one second - there were no bites with any of the repellents.
Repellents should be used with caution however, as they do contain chemicals that may be harmful to your skin. Use them with caution, follow directions and be careful how much you apply to your child's skin.
Aside from protecting yourself, you may also want to eliminate mosquitoes from your yard.
Water is crucial for mosquitoes to complete their life cycle and morph into the full-grown blood-sucking adults, though only adult females bite.
It is best to eliminate any standing water or containers that may collect water from your yard - especially during monsoon season.
Flower pots, bird baths, pool covers, etc. are all examples of things may collect excess water. Flush them out every few days. Be sure there are no drainage problems in pipes or ditches. Switch out the water in pet bowls outside often.
It may also be a good idea if you have a large property to install a bat house - as they provide excellent pest control free of charge.
Make sure your yard is also free of debris that may attract the little guys, such as clogged gutters or weed piles.
Since some mosquitoes can fly more than 20 miles, it might be a good idea to talk with your neighbors and make a community effort in mosquito control.
Less bites, less illness, less itching...you might have a better summer.
And of course (as if you needed someone to tell you), never scratch your bites, no matter how badly they itch.
For more information, check out: Mosquito Control.