Yes, we have mosquitoes on the Baja!
This article will hopefully bring awareness and information to you from a different perspective. Living on the Baja is typcially dry and is a desert, but none the less, we have our mosquito problems just like the rest of the world.
How many of these mosquito facts do you know? How many 'old wives tales' are actually true?
1) Only female mosquitoes bite. Male and female feed mostly on fruit and nectar, but the female needs protein in her blood to encourage egg production. Once the female has had enough blood she will take a break for two days, then lay her eggs.
2) Mosquitoes don't have teeth. The female mosquito bites with a long pointed mouth part called a 'proboscis'. The jagged edge proboscis is pierced into a blood vessel through one of two tubes.
3) A mosquito drinks up to three times its weight in blood. It would take close to 1.2 million bites to suck up all the blood in your body.
4) Female mosquitoes lay up to 300 eggs at three different life intervals. Mostly the eggs are in clusters laying on the surface of still water. Eggs can hatch in an inch of still water. ( All good reasons to eliminate still water congregation in your garden!)
5) Mosquitoes spend the first 10 days in water. The larvae stage called 'Wigglers' feed on organic matter in still waters and breath oxygen from the surface. The wigglers develop into the pupae or partially encased cocoon stage that do not feed during this time of development. In the next several days the pupae stage changes into the adult.
6) Mosquitoes have evolved. They are cold blooded and prefer temperatures of 80F and not less than 50F. Some mosquitoes to protect themselves outdoors will find holes, water bottles, rotoplasts, garbage cans, even plant pots to hide under while waiting for warmer weather. Evening during cooler nights mosquitoes will find there way indoors and hide behind curtains, refrigerators, cupboards, even small holes in the wall. As you are sleeping mosquitoes search you out to bite. Some females as they are dying will lay there eggs in freezing water. The eggs stay dormant until temperatures rise so they can hatch.
7) The average life cycle of a mosquito is two months. Males live only for 10 days or less. Females, under the right environmental conditions, will live up to eight weeks and lay eggs every three days. Females that have evolved to hibernate in colder conditions in warmer climates can live up to six months.
8) There are over 3500 Species of Mosquitoes and they have lived on the earth since the Jurassic Era.
9) Mosquitoes dislike Lavender and Catnip Oil may help keep them away. Mosquitoes seem to prefer some folks over others due to the subtle scent differences
10) Male mosquitoes find females by the sound of their wings. Females beat their wings up to 500 times per second and the higher the frequency is noticed by a male. They get together and mate with amazing precision.
11) Mosquitoes do not fly very fast. Most can only fly one to three miles and usually stay close to where they were hatched. Mosquitoes born in salt marshes can travel up to 40 miles away. Top speed is about 1.5 miles per hour. Mosquitoes normally do not fly above 25 feet.
12) Mosquitoes can smell your breath. Receptors are on the antennae and detect CO2 emissions from your breath leaving a trail for the insect to follow.
13) Sweat from your body determines choice of blood. Our bodies release over 350 chemicals, some of the smells the mosquito really like. Favorites are cholesterol, folic acid, types of bacteria, skin lotions, perfumes and octenol a chemical released in your sweat.
14) Heat from your body will attract them. Mosquitoes have heat sensors around their mouth parts that detect the warmth of your blood, then land and feast on your veins and arteries.
15) Biting Midges technically called 'No-see-ums' are tiny mosquito looking insects and are often mistaken for mosquitoes. No-see-ums are found in coastal and salt marsh areas. They are ferocious in appetite and inflict a trail of itchy welts on exposed body parts that when scratched can introduce infections and puss. No-see-ums bite in early morning and evenings. No-see-ums cause allergies and dermatitis. No-see-ums are not sand flies.
Pesky problems with Mosquitoes
16) Itchy bumps caused by mosquito bites we are all aware of. The mosquito has two proboscis tubes in the mouth. One tube draws blood the other pumps in saliva that contains a mild painkiller and anti-coagulant. Most bites inflicted cause allergy symptoms such as the usual swelling and itchiness.
17) West Nile, Dengue, Chikingunya and Zika viruses are in saliva via a parasite that infects the mosquito.
18) Heart worm in dogs is carried and passed on by parasitic infected mosquitoes.
19) Dengue and Chikingunya viruses inflicted are extremely painful in the human body. Zika fever can have mild to debilitating symptoms.
20) Children and people with health issues and low immune system are more susceptible to the wrath of mosquito-borne viruses and illnesses.
21) Mosquitoes are considered the deadliest 'animal' in the world.
How to Keep Mosquitoes Away From You
22) Synthetic deet, and two other natural repellents, picaradin oils and lemon/eucalyptus are proven effective and are recommended by the CDC - Center for Disease Control.
23) New bacteria on the market called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) is a natural mosquito larvae destroyer.
24) Wear light colored clothing. Remember that dark clothing retains heat better so best to avoid wearing dark colours.
25) Clean up still water. Remove or drain any excess still/stagnant water areas. Remove still water from bird baths, dog bowls, any places where water sits for a long time without movement.
26) Make sure lids are tight on rotoplasts, bins, barrels.
27) Irrigate gardens early in the morning to ensure excess water is dried out from the natural sunlight.
28) Dragonflies in larvae nymph stage are the preferred natural predator for consuming large amounts of mosquito. Your local extension office or university will help guide you to the right source.
29) Bats do not eat enough mosquitoes to make a huge difference. On average 1 to 2 percent of a bats diet is mosquitoes. Preferred diet is small flies. Purple Martins Bird Species exists mainly on dragonflies and other flies.
30) Mosquito traps can destroy thousands of mosquitoes a night.
31) Bug Zappers and electronic repellers have proven to be very ineffectual.
32) Mosquito nets and Natural Insecticide Repellents are highly recommended. It is best to sleep under a mosquito net as matter of course.
33) Fans, wind will keep mosquitoes at bay but not totally away. They can be somewhat effective as mosquitoes find it difficult to fly into anything over 1 MPH. Direct the fan low to the ground, as they fly low to the ground to avoid wind.
Mosquito-borne diseases or mosquito-borne illnesses are diseases caused by bacterial viruses or parasites transmitted by mosquitoes. They can transmit without being affected themselves.
Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes include:
Malaria, Dengue, Filariasis, West Nile virus, Chikingunya, Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Saint Louis Encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, La Crosse Encephalitis and Zika fever.
Nearly 700 million people get a mosquito-borne illness each year resulting in greater than one million deaths.
To Sum Up!
Get rid of any pools of still water around your yard. Remember: Mosquitoes only need a wee bit of still water to lay scores of eggs.
Use a Mosquito Net for sleeping.
Do not rely on Bug Catchers/Zappers to catch Mosquitoes as they are ineffective.
Wear clothing that does not have a high contrast, during the day wear light colours and at night dark. Very effective is synthetic tight weave fabrics that are snug to the body such as quality leggings and long sleeve tops.
DO use natural repellents such as our Pesky Mosquito. Proven to repel
mosquitoes naturally and organically. Ingredients are all natural and leaves no oily, greasy, yucky feel. Even smells good (to humans that is)
Available on line or at these locations in the Southern Baja/Cabo San Lucas/La Paz/ San Jose/ Todos Santos/ Pescadaro
Also available at Baja Beans Marketplace on Sundays! Come and chat with Cathy Hill about how she can help you manage your mosquito challenges. It's a lovely gathering place for all to share, plus grab a cuppa joe and support the local artisans and musicians!