It’s the noise most of us dread when drifting off to sleep in the summer—a high pitched buzzing that means a mosquito attack is imminent. Yet itchy bites and the threat of sleepless nights thanks to these irritating insects can be avoided with a few easy precautions.
Mosquitoes can carry many life-threatening diseases in certain parts of the world, such as Africa, Asia and South America—where malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever and dengue fever can be spread by the insect. Thankfully in the UK the worst thing we have to deal with is usually the after effects of the bite.
And with World Mosquito Day (WMD) on Wednesday August 20 we thought what better time to launch a counter attack against the ‘mossies’ than now. WMD dates back to 1897, when British doctor Sir Ronald Ross discovered that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans.
So with this in mind we’ve put together a guide to help Staysure customers avoid being bitten this summer—and what to do if you are.
How to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes
Although it’s not possible to avoid mosquito bites completely, here are some tips to help protect yourself:
- Get a mosquito net if you are camping or sleeping outside.
- If you’re in the garden, use an outdoor fan to prevent the insects from congregating.
- Use antibacterial soap—as mosquitoes are attracted to bacteria on your skin.
- Wear long sleeves and trousers—this is particularly important in the evenings and at night when mosquitoes tend to feed.
- Buy a plug-in, indoor mosquito repellent for your home.
- Use insect repellent on your skin and where you sleep.
- If abroad, sleep under a mosquito net that has been treated with insecticide.
- While on holiday stay somewhere with mosquito screening on doors and windows. Failing that, make sure the doors and windows close properly.
- Sleep with a fan pointing at your bed as mosquitoes are poor fliers and this will help prevent them landing on you.
- Avoid parts of the world where mosquitoes are common. For a list visit the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) Malaria Travel Information website.
- Get rid of any standing water such as pools or puddles as they can become a breeding ground for the pests in the summer.
- Avoid wearing dark clothing—they are drawn to heat and darker clothes absorb more heat than light-coloured clothing.
Treating mosquito bites
If bitten by a mosquito there are a number of things you can do to treat the bite:
- Heat up a metal spoon using hot water and press it directly against the bite for a couple of minutes. When you take it off, the itch should be gone as the protein that causes the itch can’t survive moderately high temperatures.
- Tea tree oil acts as an anti-inflammatory and can relieve itching, swelling and pain. It also has antibacterial and anti-viral properties that can help prevent infection.
- Don’t scratch the bite. Although this will momentarily make it feel better, this spreads the saliva that causes the itching. This causes the body to release more histamine antibodies, making the effects worse.
- Use ice to relieve itching and prevent further swelling.
Why mosquitoes bite you
In an article published online by Cable News Network, several myths about why mosquitoes bite you were debunked. They included:
- Mosquitoes are not attracted or repelled by food such as bananas, beer or garlic.
- Neither are they attracted to certain blood types or because you have ‘sweet blood’.
- In fact it’s carbon dioxide and heat that are the biggest draws for the insect.
- But sweat and skin secretions can make one person more attractive to a mosquito than another.
- Size matters—evidence suggests mosquitoes prefer men over women, adults over children and larger people over smaller people. It’s also thought being pregnant (by the way we have a pregnancy holiday insurance page if you are pregnant and travelling) makes you a mosquito magnet. This is because larger people produce more heat and carbon dioxide than others.
- Mosquitoes are said to be the deadliest animals on Earth, as more deaths are associated with the insects than any other animal on the planet.
- Only female mosquitoes bite, as they need the protein for their eggs.
- Their wings beat up to 500 times a minute—explaining that irritating buzzing sound.
- All mosquitoes require water to breed.
- They can live for up to a month.
- Mosquitoes can detect carbon dioxide from several hundred feet away.
- The name mosquito comes from Spanish and means ‘little fly’.
So hopefully now you will be able to enjoy a mosquito-free holiday. And if you have any tips for avoiding these insects or how to treat their bites, why not let us know on our Facebook page, we’d love to hear from you!
These tips are non-advisery and are merely meant as a general guide to avoiding problems when you go on holiday. For professional advice, please consult your doctor.