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Tiny And Deadly: New “Sexy” Mosquitos Can’t Be Trusted

written by M.E. Evans September 25, 2013

While most of us in the western world think of mosquitos as being a simple pest, the rest of the world is terrified of them. The small insect has been credited with being one of the most dangerous creatures in the world and not surprisingly it’s a title that the nasty little things have earned. It’s bad enough that they are gross, itchy, and annoying, but they also have the ability to spread fatal diseases to both human and animal alike. Where mosquitos flourish so do diseases such as Malaria, Yellow Fever, West Niles Virus, and even Heart-worm, a parasitic infection that is often fatal to dogs.

Since Malaria was mostly wiped out in Europe decades ago, Europeans haven’t had to worry about disease carrying mosquitos for a while, however, they are no longer able to live carefree among the demon insects. The Asian Tiger

Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopicts, beginni...

Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopicts, beginning its blood-meal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mosquito was found in Italy in 1990 and despite it’s sexy stripes, can transmit up to twenty-two diseases, which is even more than all of the red-light workforce in Amsterdam. Since 1990 five more species of disease carrying mosquitos have been found in Europe. In response, The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Stockholm has released guidelines for “mosquito surveillance” in hopes to stop the pests from traveling further north though researchers are worried that containing the problem will prove to be difficult. Experts believe that globalization and the international tire business is allowing the dangerous insects to travel further than they would normally go. Basically, the mosquitos are hitching a ride with corporations throughout the continent.

It does not take long to notice the mosquito problem in Florence. The Arno, the cobblestone and regular rainfall are the main culprits. Mosquitos lay eggs in pools of water and even the tiniest little pool is adequate for them to breed. In this past week I’ve learned a lot about these tiny creatures, for example I’ve learned that only female mosquitos feed on blood. The male mosquitos dine on nectar and pass on the icky stuff. Ever wondered why some people get bit more than others? According to research, it’s because mosquitos like sweaty people. If they are flocking your way maybe you should tone down your physical activity or take a cold shower. Experts say there are natural ways to reduce the number of mosquitos in a city, ahem, Florence. Dragonflies eat mosquitos, so we obviously need about 5 billion more of those. Also, one breed of Mosquito doesn’t suck blood but it eats other mosquitos larva so we need to buy some of those and dump a few million of them in the Arno. I’m not an expert, but Mosquito eating insects sounds like a great idea to me.

So you know what they say, know thy enemy, knowledge is power, and all of that? Well, I’m going to educate everyone on how to keep the evil little monsters away until Europe gets the problem under control. You’re welcome. First and foremost one should mosquito-proof their home. Most people have probably already stocked up on insect repellent, but a study at Kansas State University found that the commonly used anti-pest ingredient, DEET, isn’t as effective as natural plant repellents because mosquitos build up a resistance to it. They found that a chemical found in lavender, marigolds and basil is toxic to mosquitos and is much more effective than synthetic chemicals. Mosquitos also dislike catnip and citronella. Keep mosquitos out of your home by installing a cheap screen and/or lining all of your windows with potted lavender, marigolds, catnip and maybe some citronella candles. I’ve also read that garlic works though I haven’t found any scientific evidence of it so I wouldn’t use it unless you have a vampire problem. Mosquitos are more active at night so try to be prepared when you head out to dinner or a night of debauchery. A few dabs of lavender or citronella essential oils on skin can keep them at bay. For those of you with pets don’t forget your four-legged friends, Heart-worm is easy to prevent with a monthly preventative tablet but the illness is very difficult and costly to cure. If these simple techniques are used, with the right preparation everyone can have a comfortable, mosquito-free, year.

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