Forget the lions, the sharks or the crocodiles!
The most dangerous predator to humans has to be the not-so-humble mosquito. In fact, according to the World Health Organization or WHO, mosquitoes cause the deaths of more than a million people every year.
The majority of these deaths are due to malaria. As I was born in and spent many years in different parts of Africa, I am well aware of the dangers. Apart from malaria, there are other mosquito-borne illnesses, such as encephalitis, yellow fever, malaria, West Nile virus or dengue.
Perhaps not so dangerous in the West, but a nuisance nevertheless, many of us can suffer pain and discomfort from mosquito bites at certain times of the year. Out of some three thousand species of mosquitoes in the world, roughly 200 can be found in the USA.
Some interesting information about mosquitoes
- The males are not interested in your blood, but the females are, searching for the protein and iron in your blood to produce their eggs.
- It was once believed that mosquitoes were attracted to human sweat, but researchers have now found that it is not the sweat itself but the chemical changes, produced by bacteria in your sweat, that provide the attraction.
- Sweat itself is odorless until bacteria act upon it so although mosquitoes are not attracted to fresh sweat, they will be unable to resist “fermented sweat”.
- You may well have discovered that some people are much more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than others. This is because one trillion microbes live on your skin and create your body odor but humans have only about 10 percent of these microbes in common, with the rest varying among individuals. Unfortunately, some of us will have a collection of microbes that are particularly irresistible to mosquitoes.
How to prevent mosquitoes from targeting you
- Mosquitoes are drawn to both movement and heat. So if you’re exercising outside on a warm summer evening, you provide the perfect target. They will also love foot odor.
- You can avoid insect bites by staying indoors between dusk and dawn – this is when they are most active.
- Mosquitoes are also thicker in shrubby areas and near standing water.
- Mosquitoes require water in which to breed, so carefully drain any sources of standing water around your house and yard.
- Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing including long sleeved shirts, long pants, hats and socks if you do have to be outdoors between dusk and dawn.
- Bat houses are becoming increasingly popular because bats are such voracious consumers of insects, especially mosquitoes.
- Planting marigolds around your yard also works as a bug repellent because the flowers give off a fragrance that bugs dislike.
- A simple electric house fan may also help keep mosquitoes at bay if you’re having a get-together outdoors.
- Dragonflies are another useful tool in the elimination of mosquitoes. So try and encourage them to your area.
Most commercial insect repellants contain a chemical called DEET so these should be avoided as they can have very harmful side effects. Many bug sprays contain permethrin. This chemical is a member of the synthetic pyrethroid family, which is known to be neurotoxic with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deeming it to be carcinogenic— that is capable of causing lung tumors, liver tumors, immune system problems, and chromosomal abnormalities. Pyrethroids have also been linked to behavior problems in children. Last but not least, permethrin is very toxic to the environment—especially to bees and aquatic life—and is extremely toxic to cats.
How to treat mosquito bites naturally
Here are our top ten natural tips, many of which we have written about in more detail in previous posts...
1. Aloe Vera which has more than 130 active compounds and 34 amino acids that are beneficial to your skin.
(as well as possibly repelling mosquitoes) has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
are soothing and helpful for reducing swelling.
4. Raw organic honey and especially Manuka honey from New Zealand
5. Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils for its calming scent.
6. Tea Tree oil
is helpful for healing cuts, burns, infections and mosquito bites.
7. Swipe a cooled tea bag over your bites to help as the tannins in the tea act as an astringent and reduce swelling.
8. Add 2 to 3 cups of apple cider vinegar
to your bath and soak for 30 minutes; the acidity helps relieve itching.
9. Dissolve some baking soda
in your bath and soak for 30 minutes.
10. You can also use either ice or heat to ease the discomfort from bug bites. simply clean the area and apply a cold compress or apply a heated spoon directly to the area for a couple of minutes.
Make your own mosquito repellent
- 55 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil (reported by the CDC to be a good natural substitution for DEET in repelling insects, but not recommended for use on children under 3 years).
- 15 drops cedarwood essential oil
- 15 drops rosemary essential oil
Add carrier liquids to small 3 to 4 oz. spray bottle before mixing in the essential oils and shaking well before each use. Apply every few hours for maximum effect whenever needed.