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Mosquitoes and you

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Summer weather is here and many of us will participate in outdoor activities. What you might not realize is that body heat and the carbon dioxide, which we exhale, attracts insects such as mosquitoes.

Mosquito surveillance - the capture and testing of mosquitoes for disease -- is conducted between the months of May and August. Mosquitoes favorite time to breed is dusk and dawn. Mosquitoes can smell the CO2 we exhale from a distance of 100 feet away. Male mosquitoes only feed off of flower nectars and juices; but female mosquitoes feed on blood. Blood gives female mosquitoes nutrients to develop eggs.

Adult female mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, lakes, puddles, or an artificial water container such as a plastic bucket. Ways to minimize mosquitoes around your household are to simply drain out all buckets, plant holders or even un-used toys that can cause water to store and make ideal breeding sites.

One method that some folks use during BBQ's to try to wipe out mosquitoes is a bug zapper. The ultraviolet light from zappers attracts all night-flying insects. Zappers can kill nearly 10,000 insects in a single evening. However, mosquitoes are not that attracted to ultraviolet light and only about 10 percent are actually eliminated by this machine.

Another method people try is insect repellent. Products wear off in approximately two to four hours and need to be reapplied. Repellents are effective only at short distances from the treated surface, so you may still see mosquitoes flying nearby.

According to the Center for Disease Control it is important always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label to include:
  • Use enough repellent to cover exposed skin or clothing.
  • Don't apply repellent to skin that is under clothing. Heavy application is not necessary to achieve protection.
  • Do not apply repellent to cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water. (This may vary depending on the product. Check the label.)
  • Do not spray aerosol or pump products in enclosed areas.
  • Do not spray aerosol or pump products directly to your face. Spray your hands and then rub them carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
Synthetic repellents tend to be more effective and/or longer lasting than natural repellents. The CDC recommends using products that have been shown to work in scientific trials and that contain active ingredients which have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use as insect repellents on skin or clothing. Products containing these active ingredients typically provide longer-lasting protection than others:
  • DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide)
  • Picaridin (KBR 3023)
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus, a plant- based repellent, is also registered with EPA.
Next time you are out and about having family fun outdoors, be aware of your surroundings. Ensure your family is prepared for the weather and use proper protective equipment to help reduce mosquito attraction. If you have any further questions or health concerns, contact your local Public Health Office at 720-847-6454.

For more information go to http://www.cdc.gov.
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