by Norma Rees

It's that time of year…mosquitoes, and now the Zika scare. Although scary, mosquitoes are amazing animals.
Here are some interesting facts along with some safety precautions:

  • When mating, male mosquitoes locate females by the sound of their wings. Females beat their wings up to 500 times per second, which attracts the male's attention. When mosquitoes mate they synchronize their wing beats to perform a lover's duet.
  • Mosquitoes can smell human breath. They have receptors on their antennae that detect carbon dioxide when we exhale. The plumes of CO2 rise into the air, acting as trails that the mosquitoes follow to find the source.
  • Sweat helps mosquitoes choose their victims. Our sweat produces 340 chemical odors and some of our odors smell like dinner to mosquitoes.
  • Mosquitoes use heat sensors around their mouthparts to detect the warmth of your body – actually, the blood inside it – then land on you and locate the best capillaries for tapping.
  • Only female mosquitoes bite. Both male and female feed mainly on fruit and plant nectar, but the female also needs the protein in blood to help her eggs develop. Once she has her fill of blood she rests for a few days before laying her eggs.
  • A mosquito can drink up to three times its weight in blood. (Don't worry, though. It would take about 1.2 million bites to drain all the blood from your body.)
  • DEET is considered the 'gold standard' of mosquito repellents. Mosquitoes do not like the smell of it. A product containing 10 percent DEET can protect you for up to 90 minutes. Lemon eucalyptus oil has also been proven effective and recommended by the CDC.
  • *** Bug zappers are useless against mosquitoes. Studies have shown that less than 1 percent of the insects killed by zappers are mosquitoes or other biting insects. The devices attract and kill beneficial or harmless insects, like moths, and have no effect on the overall mosquito population. Electronic repellers have also proven ineffective in scientific testing.
  • Mosquito traps can kill thousands of mosquitoes in a single night. One study conducted by public health researchers in Australia found that a Mega-Catch™ trap caught and killed more than 44,000 female mosquitoes from 17 species in less than two weeks. Mosquito trap is a silent trap emitting a combination of carbon dioxide, heat and moisture to attract and trap mosquitoes.
  • The two main mosquito predators are fish and dragonflies. Put small fish in ponds or water features. Some towns in Maine release dragonflies every summer as a natural form of mosquito control.
  • Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time…In rafts, on the surface of stagnant water, in as little as an inch of standing water. Mosquitoes spend their first 10 days in water. It is very important to: ***Empty, drain, or cover all things that can hold water.
  • Plant some mosquito-repelling flowers and herbs, especially near areas that are prone to collect water. Mosquitoes don't like the smell of: basil, lavender, rosemary, and peppermint: geranium, marigold, and pennyroyal: catnip, citronella, lemon balm, and garlic…and will stay away from them.
  • Mosquitoes are considered the deadliest "animal" in the world. The Anopheles mosquito, in particular, is dangerous because it transmits malaria, which kills more than one million people in the world, primarily in Africa. Alexander the Great is believed to have died of malaria in 323 B.C.