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Mosquitoes - how to avoid being their dinner

insect; insects; bites; mosquitoes; rash; itch; itchy;

Contents

What is a mosquito?

mosquitoA mosquito is a very annoying flying insect. The female mosquito is always on the lookout for blood because that is what it needs to make its eggs.

It sinks its proboscis (say prob-oss-kiss), which is the name of its hollow, needle-like stinger, into some bit of your body, injects chemicals to stop the blood clotting, then sucks up blood. The next time it's hungry, it may come back to you or go off to get more blood from someone or something else. Usually it floats silently along looking for a victim that it can quietly settle on. You don't know that it has dined on you until you get a very itchy spot or someone sees it sitting on your leg and gives you a hard slap - missing the mosquito, but hitting you!

Sometimes though, especially in the middle of the night, a female mosquito will start a high pitched 'zzzzzzzzzzzzzz' sound as it circles round and round looking for a nice warm bit of person to get its next meal from!

Where mosquitoes like to live

mosquitoes

 

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in still water - salty or fresh - and they like it to be near where there is nice human or animal blood. The eggs hatch and become wrigglers which live in water,  and then they change into 'adults', which are the flying insects.

Any pool of water, even a little in the saucer of a plant pot or caught inside an old tyre, is a good place for them to hang out.

 
They sneak into rainwater tanks, swimming pools and birdbaths - in fact, wherever they can find enough water to lay their eggs, they will be there.


Problems that mosquitoes can cause

  • Bites can be swollen and itchy.
  • Bites can become infected if you scratch them.
    time for tea
  • Mosquitoes can carry diseases. It depends where you live what the diseases are. Malaria and Dengue Fever can be really serious diseases in some parts of the world. In Australia, mosquitoes can carry several diseases including Ross River virus. Mosquitoes do not carry HIV.
  • When mosquitoes inject the chemicals to keep blood flowing, any disease they are carrying gets into the body too.
  • Some people have really bad reactions to mosquito bites and will need to see a doctor for some anti-histamine medication to help them get better.

Keeping safe from mosquitoes

Mosquitoes in Australia are mostly active in the evening or early morning, so here are some ideas to help stop you becoming a 'mozzie' dinner!

If you are outside around sunset, then you could:

  • put on lots of insect repellent before you go out - don't forget your feet and ankles or the back of your neck
  • wear clothes that cover most of you (loose clothes are best, as mosquitoes can bite through tight jeans!)
  • burn a mozzie coil or special citrus candle to keep the little pests away, or sit near an electronic insect zapper
  • do not sit near still water
  • mozzie-proof your home.

Mosquito-proof your home

We have already talked about some of the places where mosquitoes will breed - so let's start with a tour of the outside of your house.

  • Empty out any water that is lying in 'hidden' areas, like under plant pots, in bird baths, old tyres, etc.
  • Empty your pet's water bowl every day, and fill it with clean water.
  • Clean ponds, pools, fountains and bird baths often.
  • Fill in any hollows in the ground where water might collect.
  • Check fly screens on doors and windows for holes, and make sure that windows and doors close without leaving any gaps.
  • Close doors when you go outside.
  • Help an adult check out rainwater tanks. They might need covers or filters to keep mosquitoes and wrigglers out.
  • Outside air conditioners might drop water, forming a little pond.

mozzies zappedInside the house you can help to check that windows are closed in the evening and at night, or that the flyscreen is keeping insects out.

If there are 'mozzies' around it might be useful to spray your bedroom with an insect spray before you go to bed, and close the door for a while. Wait for a while before you go to bed to make sure that any 'mozzies' have been well and truly dealt with by the spray.

sleeping without a mozzie net

 

In some places it is a good idea to use mosquito nets over people who are sleeping, because windows and doors don't have screens.

 

 

 

Taking the pain out of 'mozzie' bites

If, in spite of all your efforts, the little pests manage to get you, then here are some things that you can do.

  • Grandma used to put a paste of baking powder and water on the bite, or dab it with something called 'dolly blue' that she used to put into the wash to make white sheets look whiter.
  • Granddad used to dab a bit of washing bleach onto the bite using a bit of cloth or cotton wool.

    Sounds radical, doesn't it?
     
  • Nowadays you can buy a lotion to spray or dab onto the bite to make it less hot and itchy. Ice on the bites can also make you feel better.

Of course, you don't scratch mozzie bites, because that makes them itch more and they could get germs into them and go all 'yucky'.

Dr Kim says:

Dr Kim
"Isn't it strange how mosquitoes seem to really like some people and leave others alone? If you feel ill, sick and hot after mozzie bites, then it is a good idea to tell mum or dad. You may need to see a doctor for some medicine to make you feel better again. If the bites become big red and scratchy lumps, some medicine might help this too."
 

Mozzie, Mozzie, Mozzie
Oy, Oy Oy!
Mozzie bites, mozzie stings
Let's avoid the horrid things
Sucking blood, spread diseases
Fevers, chills, coughs and wheezes
Buzzing round and round my bed
SSSSShh let's spray until they're dead!

BH

 

To learn more have a look at the pamphlet 'Fight the bite' from the South Australian Health Department.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.

 

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