There has been so much rain in the Midwest and Eastern United States that you can easily get eaten alive just stepping out your door. Mosquitoes love wet areas – floods, lakes, rivers, swamps, puddles, and ponds. They lay their eggs in these waters and they generally hatch all at once, creating swarms of mosquitoes.
In the U.S., 200 people die per year from mosquito-borne illnesses. It doesn’t sound like many compared to COVID, but if it’s you or someone you know, it’s devastating. Mosquitoes can transmit the Jamestown Canyon virus, West Nile virus, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (which can be deadly). It only takes one bite from one infected mosquito to cause severe illness. Itching like crazy from bites is unpleasant too!
Only female mosquitoes do the biting. They have a mouthpart that pierces the skin to get a meal from your blood. The blood is then used to produce mosquito eggs. While sucking the blood, the mosquito injects its own saliva into your skin. The body reacts by forming a bump which itches.
Most people react mildly to mosquito bites. Some develop large red bumps, swelling, redness, and soreness. If you you are one of the unlucky ones, wash the bite with soap and water. Apply an ice pack for 10 minutes and repeat as needed. You can make a paste of one tablespoon of baking soda and just enough water to make the soda spreadable. Apply to the bite and leave for 10 minutes; repeat as needed. You can also buy an over-the-counter anti-itch cream and use according to package directions. If your swelling is severe, consult your doctor.
It generally takes at least 6 weeks of relatively dry weather and cooler temperatures for the mosquitoes to let up. In the meantime, take the following measures to protect yourself.
- Spray yourself and your clothing with inspect repellant containing DEET before going outdoors.
- Your clothing should cover your arms and legs (long sleeves and pants) and be light colored.
- Avoid areas where the mosquitoes are swarming (along rivers, swamps).
- Try to keep standing water from accumulating around your home.
- Keep screens and doors closed. Don’t let mosquitoes in your house.