August 23, 2020

Best Methods to get rid of mosquitoes

Why do You Want to Get Rid of Mosquitoes?

Imagine a gathering with friends and family set outdoors amidst the beautiful scenery. Decorations are up and the mood is energized, until mosquitoes make their rounds. Mosquitoes are small in size, but big in nuisances. They bite a human victim, causing an itchy welt on the skin. Mosquitoes come out in swarms and quickly put an end to any fun since they bite concurrently on any area of the body. Enjoying yourself is not easy when being attacked by swarms of biting mosquitoes. They also carry diseases that can cause illness and even death if left untreated.

Why do Mosquitoes Bite Humans? Do They Only Bite Humans?

Only female mosquitoes bite people. They need the blood to fertilize their own eggs during their reproductive season. Male mosquitoes feed on nectar from plants but females need the lipids found in blood to reproduce. They’ll also bite animals, although the mosquito species determines its preferred animal. Mosquitoes can feed from birds, reptiles or even insects, among others.

It might seem that the majority of mosquitoes in India prefer feasting on a human host whenever possible although only 6% of the over 3000 species feed from human blood. About 100 species can be disease vectors. Even though might seem in the end a low number compared to the total number of mosquito species, they can cause a devastating impact. 

why do mosquitoes bite humans

Why do mosquitoes bite humans?

Mosquitoes can detect the CO2 (carbon dioxide) their hosts emit with their antennas. The pest also prefers certain smells, just as sweat. Our body emanates via our sweat some organic volatile molecules such as lactic acid, acetone or ammonia. Contrarily, there are also some volatile odorants that either repel or make it difficult for the mosquitoes to find us, e.g. Octonal, Nonenal or Sulcatone (6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one). A study published in the Journal of Entomology concluded mosquitoes are especially attracted to people with Type O blood type.  

How long does it take a mosquito to bite?

Mosquitoes introduction of the proboscis

1. The mosquitoes start the biting process by introducing the proboscis.

Mosquitoes sucking blood

2. Once the mosquito has found a blood vessel, it starts sucking the blood.

Mosquitoes introduction of the proboscis

1. The mosquitoes start the biting process by introducing the proboscis.

Mosquitoes sucking blood

2. Once the mosquito has found a blood vessel, it starts sucking the blood.

Mosquito timings can be very surprising to many people.

  • The introduction of the proboscis (penetrate our skin to find a blood vessel) takes about 50 seconds.
  • Sucking of the blood: 2.5 minutes (a mosquito drinks about 2.8 mg of blood)
  • Proboscis withdrawal: about 5 seconds.
  • The typical itchy sensation can take more than 3 min to manifest after the mosquito finished feeding.

In the video below you can see how a mosquito penetrates the skin with the needle-like proboscis and sucks the blood from a blood vessel.

Do Mosquitoes Transfer Disease?

Mosquitoes are a nuisance to us all but they also cause concern for our health and well-being. Most people worry that mosquito bites will cause them to develop a disease. Is this possible or is it nothing more of a far-fetched worry?

Mosquitoes carrying many different diseases that can be passed to a human who is bitten by the pest. Not all mosquitoes carry or transfer disease, although many do.

Diseases are transmitted by the AedesCulex, and Anopheles mosquitoes globally. Extracted from the WHO official web page. 

Among the diseases that mosquitoes spread include:

  • Dengue: Headaches, fever, joint pain and muscle pain, and rash are among the most common symptoms of Dengue. More than 100,000 people in India are infected with Dengue every year. Transmitted by the Aedes mosquito (mostly by Aedes aegypti). There are four distinct serotypes of the virus that cause dengue (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4), very closely related. This means that you can be ifected 4 times. There is no specific treatment for Dengue although access to proper medical care lowers the fatalilty rates to below 1%.
  • Malaria: This deadly disease affects millions of people worldwide every year. Symptoms include nausea, fever, and chills, and flu-like symptoms that usually appear within two weeks after infection. Transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito. According to the WHO there were about 386000 deaths for Malaria in 2018. Most Malaria cases (93%) occurring in African countries, and India representing 3%, according to the WHO Malaria report 2019.
  • Estimated country share of total malaria cases, 2018 Source: WHO malaria report 2019.

    • Chikungunya (virus): This disease has many of the same symptoms as Dengue. It is not as deadly, but nonetheless of serious concern throughout the country.  The symptoms are debilitating and may persist for several weeks. There is no vaccine and primary treatment is limited to pain medication. It is transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.
    • Zika (virus): It is a virus related to West Nile and Yellow Fever, among others. It is usually transmitted through the bit of an infected Aedes agypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. The illness is usually quite mild, with fever, rash, conjunctivitis and joint pain lasting a few days to several weeks or months. However, cases of microcephaly, a congenital defect of cranium and brain size resulting in profound neurological defects in newborns usually resulting in death have been been positively identified as being caused by Zika infection.  
    • Filariasis (Lymphatic Filiariasis): This disease affects the lymph nodes and is transmitted via mosquitoes. Most cases do not have any symptoms and it goes away on its own. Long-term damage rarely occurs. transmitted by different types of mosquitoes including Culex, Aedes and Anopheles mosquitoes. 99% of infections in India happen when the mosquito Culex spreads the worm Wuchereria bancrofti through a mosquito bite.
    • Elephantiasis: It can be developed by some people as a consequence of the Filariasis desease. It is a syndrome which is marked by severe swelling of arms, legs genitals or breasts.
    • Japanese encephalitis (virus): a kind of infection in the brain caused by being bit by a mosquito bearing Japanese encephalitis virus.

    This list includes some of the most common diseases carried by mosquitoes in India but is incomplete and the pest may carry other diseases not listed here.

    This information leaves many people wondering if AIDS can be transferred from a mosquito to a human. You’ll be relieved to learn that this is not possible. Thankfully, mosquitoes lack the receptors needed to infect cells. Although the many other diseases and viruses, such as those outlined above, are a serious threat, HIV/AIDS is not among them.

    When do Mosquitoes Bite?

    The mosquito species determines the most common time they bite but it’s true that you are more likely to get bitten during certain times of the day and night. Some species prefer their blood meal early in the mornings while others prefer it during the dark hours of the night. Between dusk and dawn is the most common time you’ll experience a mosquito bite.

    Aedes aegypti (which may transmit yellow fever or dengue fever) are day active (diurnal), and others like the Anopheles species (Malaria mosquito) are night active (nocturnal).

    May - October, or the wet monsoon season, is the most common time of the year you’ll experience mosquito bites. Keep in mind that you may experience mosquitoes at any time of the year, depending on your location in the country.

    India receives 75% of its rainfall during the southwest monsoon period from June to September. Indian monsoon rainfall provides ample breeding habitats for mosquitoes, thus leading to more cases of vector-borne diseases. It is not a coincidence that the searches for the terms "rainy season" and "mosquito" the follow the same seasonal pattern and the number of searches are paired in Google trends, for India (image below).

    Google trends mosquito vs rainy season pets and society

    Mosquito compared to rainy season terms search in Google trends.


    Where Do Mosquitoes Live?

    Mosquitoes live in weeds, grass, tall brush, and other grassy locations near homes and buildings. They’re attracted to homes with even the smallest amount of standing water on the outside. They begin breeding as soon as they emerge and a female can lay as many as 100 eggs. A little as one tablespoon of water can attract a mosquito from more than 110 km away. They breed during the warm, humid months of the year, laying their eggs either on top of water or in nearby deposits in locations that water collection can occur. Eggs hatch within 72-hours after being moisturized with the water. An egg outside of water can survive for many years.

    Mosquito Life Cycle

    3. After the mosquito is full and satiated it takes it about 5 seconds to withdrawal the proboscis. 

    4. Once it is done with the job and you start feeling itchy the mosquito can already be far away as it takes few min to start feeling the itchiness.

    3. After the mosquito is full and satiated it takes it about 5 seconds to withdrawal the proboscis. 

    4. Once it is done with the job and you start feeling itchy the mosquito can already be far away as it takes few min to start feeling the itchiness.

    Mosquitoes have four distinct life stages. Egg, larva, pupa, and adult. An egg is attached together to form a ‘raft’ that floats on water. Up to 200 eggs can stick to this raft at once. Larvae form within 72-hours of the eggs being laid. They live in water but emerge to the top to breathe. The Pupa responds to light changes and other stimuli but still do not move. This is time that the mosquito is transitioning into an adult that can fly. It takes about 2 days for this process to occur during warm weather conditions. Adults remain on top of the water for about 2 days as their wings form.

    Larvae of the Culex mosquito.

    The lifespan of mosquitoes

    What are the Best and Most Efficient Ways to Get Rid of Mosquitoes?

    Many strategies help protect you against mosquitoes. One of the best strategies to reduce the presence of mosquitoes is to minimize the standing water around our home, the prefect medium for them to lay eggs. Stagnant water can be found in tin cans, discarded tires,  pot plates, etc. But we cannot always have a control of the standing water out of our property.  

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    The main ways of getting rid of mosquitoes at home and that we can have a control of:

    1. Killing the mosquitoes.
    2. Preventing the mosquitoes to enter our home or bed.
    3. Repelling the mosquitoes.

    Wearing long sleeves (prevention) is one option that many people utilize to keep mosquito bites at bay. Many products contain citronella which supposedly repels mosquitoes and has a natural origin claim. Candles are quite popular too. However, there are other products that work better at mosquito control worthy of consideration. Next, you you can find an analysis of all the different ways available in the market and also some DIY options which are backed by science.


    Kill Mosquitoes

    It is important to find products that work to kill mosquitoes to protect the home against the dangers the pest creates. There are ample ways to kill mosquitoes as well. Next, you will get introduced to the most efficient ways of killing mosquitoes.

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    Mosquito Killer Lamp

    Some people call the mosquito killer lamp the zapper due to the noise that it makes when a mosquito makes contact. No matter what you call the lamp, it works well when it is time to keep mosquitoes away from your property. Simply choose the location that you wish to hang the lamp and you are protected against mosquitoes. The light inside of the lamp attracts mosquitoes to it and creates a force that they cannot get away from when they get close. You can trust this product to zap all of the mosquitoes that would otherwise bite you or your family.

    A mosquito killer machine or killer lamp is one of the most effective ways to get rid of the mosquitoes that already got into your home. You can find the Best Mosquito Killer Lamps for home in India in this article. The article summarizes the best mosquito killer lamps and also offers you a buying guide, to help you choose the right model for you.

    Not to be confused with the low quality and plastic-made mosquito led traps which efficacy is very low and leaves you and your family unprotected for most of the time. Insects are attracted to a specific light spectrum and some studies have found that LED lights lack that capacity. If the LED light emission is >550 nm wavelength (higher end of the visible spectrum) might be out of the range for most insects. Additionally, LED lights do not heat up and heat is also one of the attractants for mosquitoes.


    Mosquito Racket or Bat

    This battery-powered mosquito zapper is sometimes called an electric fly swatter. It is designed to kill mosquitos but can be used for any pest in the home that is causing a nuisance. The rackets do not work unless the pest lands on an object that you can swat, which puts you at a disadvantage more often than not. Mosques are very tricky critters and most of the time we never see them before they attack. However, many people do enjoy using the racket or bat and you may find it beneficial for your needs.

    Mosquito Trap

    Mosquito traps mimic the smells that mosquitoes like, which attracts them to the trap. Once the mosquito gets near the trap, a magnetic force traps it inside of the container. It is really easy to use and trick the mosquitoes into their doom. This prevents the mosquito from biting you or anyone at the home while also reducing reproduction. There are many different types of traps available, most relatively inexpensive and affordable to any budget. While this product is designed to be used outdoors, it is perfect for both home and business and office locations.


    Preventing the mosquitoes to come near you and your beloved ones

    This simple strategy has many advantages if carried out properly. Some of the advantages compared to other way of protecting from mosquito bites:

    • Economical: mosquito nets are fairly economical and a mosquito net can last for years.
    • Ecological: there is no need to spray chemicals in the air or on our skin.
    • Efficient:  if well maintained and installed properly mosquito nets prevent the mosquitoes from getting even close to you or your beloved ones.

    Mosquito Net for Windows

    Although mosquitoes are common outside of the home, they do come indoors as well. It is hard to sleep or enjoy normalcy when mosquitoes are there buzzing around in your ear. An inexpensive mosquito net prevents the critters from getting inside of the home where they create a disturbance. Nets come in assorted sizes and styles suitable for every window in the house.

    Mosquito Net for Bed

    A mosquito net for double bed or single bed is a great product that adds more protection while you sleep. It is important that you always have mosquito protection readily available. The netting is easy-to-install and with the right product, adds an intriguing look to the room. Together with the window netting, you can open the windows and enjoy the fresh air breeze without worry

    Mosquito Net for Baby

    Your bundle of joy needs additional mosquito protection, especially when outdoors. The disease that mosquitoes carry areas especially dangerous for babies and small children. A mosquito net for babies is a safe way to enjoy the outdoors with your little one. The nets come in many sizes that easily fit over your baby’s playpen, stroller, etc. for top-notch protection. The nets for babies are safe and breathable so there’s never any concern that the baby is in danger when using a net.

    How to Fold a Mosquito Net

    Mosquito nets are pretty simple to find. Check at your local shops in the area to find the netting. You may also find the netting sold at flea markets and night markets. Many people buy their netting from online sources. Many online stores sell nettings, many times cheaper than you can find in local stores and shops. You must wait for the netting to arrive which can take several days or longer. However, it reduces the need to travel to the store as it saves money. You should not have any trouble finding mosquito netting.


    Repel Mosquitoes

    There are several ways to repel mosquitoes or keep them away from your home and person. It is ideal to use some of the repellent ideas in addition to the products outlined above. Some of the best strategies that keep mosquitoes at bay:

    Natural Repellents

    People use natural repellents to further protect themselves against the dangers that some repellents bring their way. These products are made using all-natural ingredients proven to keep mosquitoes away. You can find many natural repellents on the market in many price ranges. Not every product works as well as the next. Take the time to compare the repellents to find a product with rave reviews from satisfied customers. Thyme, lemongrass, citronella, and peppermint are among the best natural repellents for mosquitoes.

    Synthetic Pest Repellents

    A mosquito spray is a great example of a synthetic Pest repellent. People love the spray because it is easy to apply to the skin anywhere on the body, even when outdoors or in wooded areas.

    Repellent Candle

    The pest repellent candle is a very popular mosquito killer product that is used by many people who want to keep their home pest free. It is easy to use the candle indoors or outdoors where it repels mosquitoes so you can enjoy the time that you spend outside with friends and family. Just light the candle and keep mosquitoes away. When you are done, blow out the candle. The candles come in many sizes and while they do not emit a smell, many dislike the natural fragrance they have.

    Pest Repellent Coil

    A couple of types of repellent mosquito coils are available. They work wonderful and can be used in more places than many other products we’ve discussed on this list. Depending on the type of mosquito repellent coil purchased, it works by other ‘eating’ the most or by repelling them from the area in the first place. The coils are great to use indoor and outdoors and offer an affordability that everyone can appreciate.

    Mosquito Repellent Bracelet

    A mosquito repellent bracelet is great for people of all ages but it is especially popular with kids. Some people do complain of the strong smell that comes along with wearing one of the bracelets. They’re inexpensive, however, and work well when spending extended time periods outside. Everyone in the family can slip on a bracelet and resume normal activity without worry or concern. It is easy to forget when using some of the other repellent products available.

    Mosquito Repellent Patch

    The mosque repellent patch works by placing a patch on the skin where it emits scents that mosquitoes do not like. There are a variety of patches from many brands. Most are inexpensive and safe, however, people with sensitive skin may find that they cause irritation. The patches are not right for everyone but do offer long-lasting benefits that keep mosquitoes away.

    References:

    1. Mutheneni SR, Morse AP, Caminade C, Upadhyayula SM. Dengue burden in India: recent trends and importance of climatic parameters. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2017;6(8):e70. Published 2017 Aug 9. doi: 10.1038/emi.2017.57
    2. Vector-borne diseases (WHO).
    3. Guhathakurta, P., Rajeevan, M., Sikka, D.R. and Tyagi, A. (2015), Observed changes in southwest monsoon rainfall over India during 1901–2011. Int. J. Climatol, 35: 1881-1898. doi:10.1002/joc.4095
    4. B.K. Tyagi, A. Munirathinam and A. Venkatesh. A catalogue of Indian mosquitoes. International Journal of Mosquito Research. 2015; 2(2): 50-97.
    5. Dengue and severe dengue. (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dengue-and-severe-dengue)
    6. Gupta, N., Srivastava, S., Jain, A., & Chaturvedi, U. C. (2012). Dengue in India. The Indian journal of medical research136(3), 373–390.
    7. World malaria report 2019 (WHO).
    8. Logan, James G et al. “Arm-in-cage testing of natural human-derived mosquito repellents.Malaria journal vol. 9 239. 20 Aug. 2010, doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-239
    9. Takken W, Kline DL. Carbon dioxide and 1-octen-3-ol as mosquito attractants. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. 1989 Sep;5(3):311-316.
    10. Fred Acree Jr., R. B. TurnerH. K. GouckMorton BerozaNelson Smith. L-Lactic Acid: A Mosquito Attractant Isolated from Humans. Science 27 Sep 1968: 1346-1347
    11. Brown, A., Sarkaria, D., & Thompson, R. (1951). Studies on the Responses of the Female Aëdes Mosquito. Part I.—The Search for Attractant Vapours. Bulletin of Entomological Research, 42(1), 105-114.
    12. Would it be wrong to eradicate mosquitoes? (bbc.com)
    13. Mosquitoes (nationalgeographic.com)
    14. Insect Vision: Ultraviolet, Color, and LED Light (University of Georgia, USA)
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    About the author 

    Arnav Ray

    Arnav  is passionate about learning about any topic related to technology and science. He has worked all his life as industrial engineer, trying to find solutions and managing complex technical projects. The same passion he had at work (now happily retired) he has it also at home, we he is already famous for getting hands on to any topic related to the home comfort and the best solutions to make his and his beloved ones lives easier.

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