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Mosquito myths that put you in harm’s way

Jun 28 2016

What’s the deadliest animal in the world? Many would first guess sharks, lions or even humans as the deadliest animals in the world. But you’d be wrong. It’s the mosquito. Each year 700 million people worldwide suffer from mosquito-borne diseases and millions die, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Here’s what you need to know to help protect yourself and your loved ones from this tiny menace.

FACT: Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors.

They are also attracted to multiple body odors, body heat and carbon dioxide in your breath.

MYTH: Mosquitoes will bite regardless of your size.

Actually, larger people tend to get bitten by mosquitoes more often because of the extra body heat and emitted carbon dioxide.

FACT: Mosquitoes are the worst at dawn and dusk.

This is absolutely true, but mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are known to be aggressive biters in the day time. If you are planning on being outside, make sure you choose midday and after dark to spend some quality time outdoors.

MYTH: Mosquitoes lay their eggs in any water source. 

Many mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, such as ponds, but others lay eggs in places that are only periodically flooded. The eggs, however, remain dormant until conditions are favorable for hatching. Mosquitoes do not breed in moving water, such as rivers and streams.

FACT: There are more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes worldwide. 

Mosquitoes have been around for more than 90 million years and as the human population has grown, they have emerged as a major nemesis.

MYTH:  Mosquitoes have been shown to transmit AIDS.

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is not able to survive inside the body of the mosquito. Researchers say it’s virtually impossible that mosquitoes could transmit the virus. There has never been a confirmed case of HIV transmission by mosquitoes.

FACT:  Male mosquitoes don’t bite. 

Only the female mosquito sucks blood, which she needs to lay eggs. Adult male mosquitoes feed only on plant nectar and are harmless to people. When the females drink our blood to grow their eggs, they can leave behind viruses and parasites that cause diseases like West Nile, chikungunyamalaria, dengue and Zika.

MYTH: The mosquito dies after she takes a blood meal.

Female mosquitoes are capable of biting more than once. After the female mosquito takes a blood meal she may lay more than 100 eggs. She may then seek other blood meals before she dies.

FACT: The buzzing sound that you hear is made by beating mosquito wings.

The wings of both males and females make a buzzing sound. Females make a higher pitched sound than males.

Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants

Stay in places with air conditioning and window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside

Take steps to address any standing water where mosquitoes can breed. Culprits can include tires, flower pots and gutters.

Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – registered insect repellants with one of the following ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.