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Facts and tips about mosquito bites

Summer isn’t all fun and games, folks. June to August is prime mosquito season and that means itchy, annoying bites. Are you one of those people that always seems to get bitten by mosquitoes?

On top of those itchy bites, mosquitoes are also responsible for spreading diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, encephalitis, West Nile virus and the Zika virus.

As soon as the temperature warms in spring, mosquitoes start emerging and the females need to find a source of blood — which could be you! If you have a problem with mosquitoes, avoid the bites and contact our experts today.

Find out the answers to these questions and more below:

  • Why do mosquitoes bite?
  • What do mosquito bites look like?
  • Why do mosquito bites itch?
  • How can I treat mosquito bites?
  • How can I prevent mosquito bites?
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Why do mosquitoes bite?

Here’s a fun fact for you, did you know that only female mosquitoes bite? Male mosquitoes don’t rely on human blood to develop and feed only on the nectar of flowers.

Female mosquitoes bite to engorge themselves on a cocktail of our blood. Our blood is rich in protein and other compounds which female mosquitoes need to help produce and develop their eggs.

When a mosquito bites you, she releases her saliva into the wound. Mosquito saliva contains an anticoagulant which helps the blood to flow easily while also ensuring the host is unaware of the activity, allowing the mosquito to feed without being disturbed.

How many times can a mosquito bite?

There is no limit to the number of mosquito bites one of the insects can inflict. A female mosquito will continue to bite and feed on blood until she is full. After they have consumed enough blood, the mosquito will rest for a couple of days (usually between 2-3) before laying her eggs. Once this is complete she is ready to bite again.

What do mosquito bites look like?

Like most insect bites, mosquito bites come in the form of swollen, red bumps. However, this can vary as different people react to mosquito bites in different ways.

Even though mosquito bites share some similarities in their appearance with other insect bites, there are some differences which can help you identify them. Mosquito bites can appear anywhere on your body, particularly in areas where the skin is exposed, such as arms and legs.

Why do mosquito bites itch?

Mosquito bites are itchy because of how your body reacts to the mosquito bite itself. Mosquito bites swell and itch because your body is suffering from a very mild allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva. As the blood vessels around the bitten area begin to swell, they cause the nerves to become irritated. To combat the anti-coagulant delivered by the mosquito's saliva, your body releases a histamine to fight it. As a result, the area around the bite becomes inflamed and itchy.

For most people, mosquito bites cause a minor allergic reaction, and it doesn’t go past these symptoms. However, some people can suffer from severe allergic reactions to mosquito bites. In these cases, it is highly advised that you visit your doctor for treatment.

Flea bites vs. mosquito bites

At first glance, flea bites and mosquito bites often look similar to one another. However, there are a few differences. For example, flea bites are usually felt immediately and are often found on the feet and lower legs.

Bed bug bites vs. mosquito bites

Just like flea bites, mosquitoes bites also share some similarities with bed bug bites in terms of their appearance. Unlike mosquito bites, bed bug bites usually appear in a line and are usually small and flat.

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How to treat mosquito bites

Treating mosquito bites is a relatively easy task that can be done at home and is similar to how you would treat other insect bites. You can treat mosquito bites by:

  1. Cleaning the bite with warm soapy water
  2. Placing an ice pack on the bite to reduce the swelling
  3. Taking an antihistamine to help relieve the itchiness
  4. Avoiding scratching to reduce the risk of infection

Home remedies for mosquito bites

On top of the usual insect bite treatments, there are also a handful of home remedies you can try, to help treat mosquito bites by reducing the swelling and relieving the itch.

  • Toothpaste: The menthol flavor of the toothpaste helps to soothe the bite.
  • Honey: Honey is a natural antibiotic and will help with the swelling.
  • Aloe vera: Aloe vera is a natural antiseptic agent and can help reduce the pain, swelling, and itching.

Allergic reactions to mosquito bites

As you are aware, the itching and swelling of mosquito bites are due to an allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva. For most people this reaction doesn’t go past these symptoms. However, some people can suffer from severe allergic reactions to mosquito bites. In these cases, it is highly advised that you visit your doctor for treatment.

Mosquito borne diseases

Mosquitoes require blood to live, but only the females bite because they require the blood to lay eggs. Since they are small, they do not require a lot of blood from their hosts, but their saliva is what causes the itchiness. Despite their lack of size, they are considered to be the world's most dangerous animal, because of wide variety of diseases they spread.

In fact, mosquitoes are known to carry and transmit viruses and diseases for both humans and animals. Some of them are specific to certain species of mosquitoes, but across the board mosquitoes can be dangerous to mammals.

Some of the diseases attributed to mosquitoes include:

  • Zika Virus- the virus has been positively linked to mosquitoes, in particular the A. aegypti and A. albopictus species. The virus tends to cause only very mild symptoms to the person who is first infected such as a fever, headache, muscle aches, a rash and a few other symptoms that disappear quickly. However, once inside a person, it can cause serious problems down the road and has been linked to birth defects such as microcephaly or to illnesses such as Guillain-Barre syndrome.

  • West Nile Virus (WNV) - first found in the U.S. in 1999, West Nile is an aborovirus linked to mosquitoes and it can be deadly to humans. The virus affects people in different ways, but can lead to encephalitis and meningitis.

  • Canine Heartworm - pets are not immune to the problems that come from mosquitoes. Heartworm is a serious illness that can be deadly to dogs and some cats by leading to congestive heart failure.

  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) - although this illness is best known for being serious for horses, it can also be found in other mammals and even be transmitted to human beings.

  • Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE) - although this illness is best known for being serious for horses, it can also be found in other mammals and even be transmitted to human beings.

  • La Crosse Virus (LAC) - this virus is another form of encephalitis and when it first appears brings about symptoms such as vomiting, fever, headaches, and nausea. However, it can quickly get much worse and lead to seizures, paralysis, brain damage, comas and even death.

  • St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) - in 1933 the first appearance of SLE appeared in the city that bears its name. These days around 128 people throughout the United States get this illnesses every year. Like other encephalitis illnesses it presents as a cold at first, but becomes worse fast.

  • Malaria - these days malaria is not much of a concern here in the U.S. However, in other parts of the world, this is still a very serious problem and if someone travels from the U.S. to other parts of the world, it is possible they could get bitten and bring malaria back with them. Malaria is a parasite that first presents like a bout of the flu, but then quickly becomes very serious. The Anopheles mosquito is known to carry malaria.

  • Dengue Fever - also not very common in the United States, but Dengue Fever is very nasty because it is a hemorrhagic, which means it causes lots of bleeding. Outbreaks do happen from time to time as people travel. This disease has been linked to the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito.

How to avoid mosquito bites

There are several ways you can avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. The best way to avoid getting mosquito bites is by making it less desirable for mosquitoes to hang around your home. You can protect yourself from mosquitoes biting you, but it's also important to remember that you can take steps around your yard to prevent mosquitoes as well. For an expert to inspect your yard for mosquito hotspots, contact Western Exterminator today.

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