Deal­ing with mos­qui­toes

De­fence is the best form of at­tack if you want to avoid be­ing bit­ten this sea­son

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - ADVICE - Words: Kirsten Craze Pic­tures: Wax­works

Q Ev­ery sum­mer, we have a prob­lem with mozzies and we’ve have tried ev­ery­thing. What’s the best way to avoid be­ing bit­ten?

A They are the un­wanted house guests we can ex­pect each sum­mer, and al­though we prob­a­bly can’t com­pletely live with­out mos­qui­toes, there are ways to live with them says med­i­cal en­to­mol­o­gist Dr Cameron Webb (pic­tured) of the Univer­sity of Syd­ney.

Watch out for wa­ter

“While some mos­qui­toes love breed­ing in large wet­lands, oth­ers can ex­ploit tiny amounts of wa­ter such as pot plant saucers, a dis­carded plas­tic take­away food con­tainer and even an up­turned lid of a soft drink bot­tle,” Cameron says. He says a few hacks around the home can help re­duce op­por­tu­ni­ties for mos­qui­toes to breed. “Throw out or cover up any buck­ets, bins or other struc­tures de­signed to store wa­ter, make sure your rain­wa­ter tank is prop­erly in­stalled and screened, clean out roof gut­ters and drains so that wa­ter doesn’t get trapped, flush out bird baths, pets’ wa­ter bowls, and wa­ter-hold­ing plants, like bromeli­ads, once a week,” he says.

To spray or not to spray

There are dozens of in­sec­ti­cides on the mar­ket, but Cameron says it is best to con­sider the risks, not only to your house­hold, but to the non-pest in­sects you might like shar­ing your home with. “Some­times it is good to have other in­sects around the home to help control mos­qui­toes,” he says. “Spi­ders can also do a great job of catch­ing mos­qui­toes, as do other in­sects, birds, frogs and lizards. Ex­ces­sive use of in­sec­ti­cides may ac­tu­ally make your mosquito prob­lem worse by re­duc­ing num­bers of these mozzie preda­tors.

“Es­sen­tial oils (such as cit­ronella) can of­ten help stop some mosquito bites — but don’t burn these in the bed­room while you sleep, you don’t want to be breath­ing in all that smoke.”

Go­ing green

There are some nat­u­ral reme­dies which of­fer a lit­tle re­lief from mozzie at­tack. “While some plants (such as tea trees) may con­tain es­sen­tial oils that are in­sect re­pel­lents when iso­lated and con­cen­trated, the plant it­self won’t help stop mosquito bites,” Cameron says. But too many plants can ex­ac­er­bate the bug pr prob­lem. “A back­yard over­grown with veg veg­e­ta­tion pro­vides a shaded, pr pro­tected, and cool e en­vi­ron­ment for m mos­qui­toes so you’ll find more buzzing about,” he s says. “Keep­ing thick v veg­e­ta­tion to a min­i­mum wi will help re­duce mos­qui­toes. Also Also, avoid plants that trap wa­ter ( (such as bromeli­ads) that pro­vide oppo op­por­tu­ni­ties for breed­ing,”

Clear the air

“Fly screens of­fer great pro­tec­tion from mos­qui­toes fly­ing in­doors, but even with that phys­i­cal bar­rier, mos­qui­toes usu­ally find a way in­side, or at least into al­fresco ar­eas,” Cameron says.

One top tip he sug­gests is to keep the air mov­ing in the rooms where you don’t want mos­qui­toes.

“Mos­qui­toes gen­er­ally won’t like the cool con­di­tions cre­ated by air­con­di­tion­ing or air move­ment cre­ated by os­cil­lat­ing fans,” he says. “Al­ter­na­tively, plug in odour­less and smoke­less de­vices. These small units re­lease in­sec­ti­cides that knock out mos­qui­toes with­out burn­ing a coil.”

Keep it clean

Main­tain­ing a clean and tidy house and gar­den is go­ing to re­duce op­por­tu­ni­ties for pest in­sects such as cock­roaches, but with less mess in the yard there will po­ten­tially be less ob­jects around catch­ing wa­ter and pro­vid­ing breed­ing grounds for mos­qui­toes.

“The best way to re­duce mos­qui­toes around the home is to en­sure they’re not breed­ing nearby in the first place,” Cameron says.

The fam­ily pet can also be a huge draw­card for all man­ner of bug life, so Dr Webb’s ad­vice is to clean up straight af­ter meal­time and their toi­let breaks.

“Any food scraps and an­i­mal waste will pro­vide a home for pest in­sects such as flies and cock­roaches,” Cameron says. “Not only can it be an­noy­ing to have a lot of these in­sects buzzing or scut­tling about, there is also a risk they may trans­fer bac­te­ria from garbage to your food, mak­ing you sick.

“Pet bowls and un­used toys can also be a source of mos­qui­toes when they trap stag­nant wa­ter, so make sure they’re col­lected and stored in­side,” he adds.

And while the jury is still out on why some peo­ple get bit­ten more of­ten than oth­ers, there is an alarm­ing link for any­one who loves a bar­be­cue: drink­ing beer and eat­ing cer­tain cheeses could make you a more pop­u­lar mozzie tar­get.

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