The nine most common errors regarding mosquitoes

There are many misconceptions regarding protection against mosquitoes: here, we address the ten most common assumptions.

1. „Turn the lights on – and mosquitoes are gone.”

Wrong: Unlike insects mosquitoes have poor eyesight and so their behaviour is not influenced by light. As they navigate by smell, it does not matter if the bedroom light is on or off. As we breath, CO2 is expired and becomes most concentrated in the head area, so mosquitoes are drawn to this part of your body.

2. „Females are more prone to get mosquito bites than males.”

Wrong: Many studies have shown that males are stung just as often as females. Gender is therefore not as important as the level of body heat, transpiration and exhaled air.

3. „Irrespective of my clothing mosquitoes always get me.”

Wrong: Wearing appropriate clothing can significantly reduce the risk of getting stung. As mosquitoes avoid light coloured clothing, wearing such outfits may prove to be a useful deterrent and showing as little bare skin flesh as possible is particularly important.

4. „Vitamin B1 or Thiamine protects against mosquitos.”

No scientific evidence: It is highly debatable if such substances offer any protection. Vitamin B1 may alter body odor and so cause mosquitoes to stay away but there is little evidence to support this.

5. „Homemade substances provide the best protection against mosquitoes.”

Wrong: Home made solutions may be cheap but often not effective, so it may be is preferable to use clinically proven Icaradine-containing repellents available from pharmacies such as Doctan®.

6. „Mosquitoes bite me because of my sweet blood.”

Wrong: There is no such thing as „sweet blood”. It may indeed be true that the constituents of blood can alter the scent of sweat; as mosquitoes are attracted by the combination of body heat and odor, the CO2 content may influence the level of interest shown by the mosquitoes.

7. „Mosquito bites are not dangerous.”

Partially True: Due to the migration of certain mosquito species from Tropical to European regions, infectious agents (Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus etc) that were once only found in in subtropical regions can now be found in mosquitoes from mid and southern European regions. These migrating species have often displaced the rather harmless resident mosquitos. In Germany, France, Italy and Croatia „exotic“ species such as the The Tiger mosquito have become well established, and may carry many virulent diseases.

8. „Mosquitos are typically are only resident around lakes and ponds.”

Partially true and false: Mosquitoes require stagnant waters to breed, Lakes and ponds harbour natural enemies of the mosquito including frogs and larger insects; as a consequence their rapid reproduction is restricted and controlled. Gardens and parks do not provide these natural constraints so small puddles, rain barrels and plant pots provide suitable mosquito breeding grounds.

9. „I prefer lemon or lavender oil. They reliably repel mosquitoes.”

Partially true and false: Scientific studies have shown that lemon or lavender scents may cover up body odor and by doing so so briefly reduce mosquito attacks. However, they become ineffective soon after the application and importantly do not prevent mosquitoes from biting.