brown winged insect photograph

Mosquito Bites 101

When you envision spring and summer, chances are your vision includes time spent outdoors at barbecues, lakes, swimming pools, hiking trails, and picnics. The not-so-romantic reality is that regardless of your go-to outdoor activity, your party will likely be crashed by a few pesky guests without an invite (think mosquitoes). Knowledge is power, which is why we’ve created this guide with everything you need to know about mosquitos, their bites, and how to treat them this spring and summer!

Why do mosquitoes bite?

Only female mosquitoes bite, as they require the protein found in human blood to nourish their eggs. According to this article, mosquitoes can locate a host by detecting the carbon dioxide that we exhale, the odor produced by compounds in our skin and sweat, and body heat. Considering these factors and others, some people are more prone to mosquito bites. For example, mosquitoes appear to be more attracted to expectant mothers, perhaps because they tend to have a higher body temperature and release more carbon dioxide than other women. Research has also shown that mosquitoes are particularly attracted to certain blood types. As demonstrated in this study, mosquitoes land on people with Type O blood almost twice as often as those with Type A. 

brown mosquito

Where do mosquitoes live? Mosquitoes are practically everywhere. They can survive for at least a short period of time on any continent, with the exception of Antarctica; however, they prefer temperatures of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they must become dormant until temperatures rise again. 

According to pests.org, mosquitoes live primarily in areas that are warm year-round with a tropical climate, and areas of standing water, such as reservoirs and ponds. In these conditions, mosquitoes can live and reproduce throughout the year. As a rule of thumb, the warmer and wetter the area, the more mosquitoes you will find. 

When is mosquito season?

With global temperatures rising, along with the human population, mosquitoes are provided with an ideal environment to live and reproduce, making them all-the-more common. Mosquito season varies depending on the region in which you live, as seen in this map:

Why do mosquito bites itch?

This article from The New York Times explains that when a mosquito bites, it uses its proboscis (a straw-like mouthpart) to pierce the skin and draw blood. To prevent this blood from clotting and thereby trapping the mosquito, it injects some of its own saliva, which contains an anticoagulant, as well as other proteins that trigger the body’s immune system to release histamine. This sends a signal to the nerves surrounding the bite, causing an itchy sensation, and sends a rush of white blood cells to the affected area, which causes the redness, inflammation, and swelling that we are all familiar with. 

How can you find relief? 

Here are a few of the do’s and don’ts. 

Don’t:

  • Scratch the bite. According to Pest World, scratching increases inflammation, thereby worsening the itchiness. In addition, if this breaks the skin, the risk of infection increases.

Do:

  • Apply bite away® as soon as you notice the bite. By pressing one of the two buttons (3 seconds for the initial treatment and for more sensitive skin, or 5 seconds for a regular application), a temperature of around 124°F is reached and maintained for the selected time, providing relief from itching and swelling within seconds. It’s safe for children ages 2 and up, expectant mothers, and those with sensitive skin or allergies!
  • Talk to your doctor if you experience more severe symptoms that may worsen over time. 

Spending time outdoors can offer a multitude of mental and physical benefits – don’t let bugs stop the fun. For ideas on outdoor activities you can embrace this season, see our blog post, Family-Friendly Social Distancing Activities for Outdoors.