Why do mosquitoes bite us. The fewer stings, the lower the risk of infection from malaria, Zika virus, dengue or yellow fever. With a few simple measures, you can largely avoid mosquito and other insect bites and thus effectively protect your health when traveling.
While the male mosquitoes feed on nectar and other plant juices and therefore do not bite, the female mosquitoes need fresh blood every 3-4 days to form their eggs. The female mosquito lays these eggs in waterholes or standing water such as ponds, water, and rain barrels or puddles. As its host, the mosquito prefers – depending on the species – either animals or humans. However, depending on the season, some mosquitoes also switch between the hosts and can thus transmit diseases from animals to humans Transmission infectious diseases.
What attracts mosquitoes and why are some people stung more often than others?
The question of which factors contribute to mosquitos classifying a person as attractive and barely stinging other people has long been a concern of science. However, there is no clear and conclusive answer, but there are various clues:
The mosquito’s criteria for selecting their host are extremely complex since the mosquitoes take a variety of odor, thermal and visual factors into account:
See Also, How far do mosquitoes travel
For the flight phase of the mosquito, the visual factors are decisive, but when approaching the host, the smell of the mosquito is predominantly used. Mosquitoes can perceive the carbon dioxide exhaled through a person’s lungs and excreted through the skin over a distance of more than 30 meters and target their potential victim. The smell, caused by the microbial breakdown of fatty acids on the skin sebum of humans, also influences the behavior of the mosquito in search of its host. Thus carbon dioxide and lactic acid are the two central stimuli that influence the behavior of the mosquito.
A change in the odor profile through the use of repellents Mosquito repellent, the daily changing of socks and washing the feet can thus specifically prevent the mosquitoes from eating their blood.
Now you know Why do mosquitoes bite us, Let’s see prevention methods.
Highly effective mosquito repellent
- For travel destinations with dengue fever, malaria, Zika virus or yellow fever risk ( >> Your travel destination ) are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) mosquito repellent with the highly effective and long-proven active ingredient DEET.
- For DEET, the duration of protection depends on the active ingredient concentration:
- Agents with a DEET active ingredient content of 30% protect for about 4 hours
- A DEET content of 40% protects you for 6-8 hours
- Medium with 50% DEET offers you effective protection for up to 10 hours.
- Pregnant women and children > 3 years old can alternatively use mosquito products with the more skin-compatible active ingredient Icaridin.
- Mosquito products with essential oils (tea tree, lemongrass or lavender) cannot demonstrate a comparable effect to DEET or Icaridin. They are therefore not recommended for risk areas.
- The insect repellent should be applied about 20 minutes after sun protection.
Clothing with insect protection
- Wear long, light trousers, socks that go over the ankles and a long-sleeved, light-colored top.
- Long clothes already offer certain protection against bites, but nevertheless about 40% of the mosquito bites are still directly through the clothes. If you are in a country where there is a risk of infection, you should also wear sturdy or impregnated clothing in combination with an effective mosquito repellent:
- Puncture-resistant clothing is woven so closely that mosquitoes hardly or not at all can sting through the clothing. The disadvantage of this tightly woven and therefore rather sturdy clothing is that you don’t necessarily want to wear it at high temperatures. Here one should pay attention to the good ventilation of the clothing when choosing.
- Many travelers also choose impregnated clothing, which in most cases contains the active ingredient? Permethrin? was treated. This active ingredient effectively prevents mosquitoes and, according to the current state of knowledge, has no external health effects for humans. You can either purchase clothing that has already been impregnated or treat your clothing yourself quickly and easily with a special anti-insect impregnation spray (but not with the anti-mosquito agent for the skin!).
- Since many mosquitoes prefer to sting your feet, you should also wear impregnated socks in high-risk areas. In addition, it is advisable to change them every two days if possible, as the otherwise developing smell will attract mosquitoes.
Sleep under a mosquito net
Here are some tips for the correct use and selection of a mosquito net:
- Size of the network: The distance between the network and the person underneath should be chosen as generously as possible. This is the only way to prevent the person from accidentally touching the net at night and being bitten by a mosquito. The recommendation is, therefore, to opt for a larger variant (2-person network) in case of doubt.
- Shape and suspension: A box-shaped mosquito net offers the advantage of a large volume for the people underneath. However, hanging the net often proves to be difficult if four or even six points of the mosquito net have to be fixed to the ceiling or wall.
Tip: In the case of changing overnight accommodation during your trip, we recommend the so-called pyramid shape with only one hanging point. You can use Tesa Powerstrip hooks to easily hang the net. If you know the place to stay, including the attachment options, and if you do not plan to change accommodation, you should choose a box-like shape due to the more generous space available under the net.
- Impregnated net or without impregnation: For stays in yellow fever, dengue or malaria risk areas, the WHO recommends the use of an impregnated mosquito net. For countries without health risks from mosquitoes, non-impregnated nets can also be chosen >> Your destination
- Mesh size: The choice of the right mesh size should be based on the smallest mosquitoes on site. The mesh size should also be chosen so that the air circulation is sufficient for the people underneath, but the local mosquitoes cannot penetrate.
- Length: In addition to the sufficient volume of the network, attention should also be paid to a corresponding length of the network. The ends of the mosquito net should be able to be wrapped under the mattress to prevent insects from entering the net.
- Weight: The weight of the net is particularly important for backpackers. The difference between a one and two-person mosquito net is usually minimal (from approx. 200g).
Tip: If in doubt, choose the two-person model.
- Cover your sleeping place with a mosquito net not only at night but also during the day
Choose your sleeping place wisely
- Why do mosquitoes bite us at our sleeping place..? If you are not sure whether the mattress, pillow or bedding in your accommodation may contain bed bugs, ticks, fleas or other insects, we recommend using an insect-repellent insert: This inner sleeping bag offers effective protection against annoying mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas, and bedbugs, thus enabling a restful and insect-proof night, even in simple accommodations.
- For outdoor tours: choose your sleeping and resting place as far as possible from standing water (pond, puddles, water basin, brackish water, etc.). The water points often serve as breeding grounds for the mosquitoes.
Why do mosquitoes bite us