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Everyone knows how annoying – and painful – midges and mosquitoes can be. Somehow, no matter how many you manage to swat, there always seem to be some that manage to get through to give you a nasty, itchy bite or two.
Here are some facts that you might want to know about these nasty little insects:
Mosquitoes often make that all-too-familiar high pitched whine.
Bites are an obvious giveaway, ranging from mildly irritating to intensely inflamed with swelling. Only the female mosquito bites humans, the males will feed off nectar and other sweet things.
The adults are attracted to standing water including water butts, water trays from house plants and water bowls, where they lay their eggs.
You might spot them walking upside down on ceilings and glass surfaces.
Mosquitoes travel a long way so if there’s standing water within a mile of your home it may be the source of your problems.
Mosquitoes might be attracted to your lawn or shrubbery if it is well watered.
Keep windows closed - After dark, keep windows and doors closed or block out the light with curtains.
Insect screens - Fit fly screens to windows.
Clear up - Clear up dead mosquitoes, as they provide a tasty snack for other pests such as carpet beetles.
Cover water - Cover water butts with well fitted lids to prevent mosquito larvae in the water.
No standing water - Do not leave standing water (in watering cans for example) as this gives mosquitoes a good place to breed.
Natural predators - If you have a garden pond, think about getting some goldfish as they will eat mosquito larvae.
Natural repellents - Try natural repellents such as citronella, neem oil, peppermint oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, witch hazel, garlic, lavender and vanilla extract.
There is a greater risk of bites when you are outdoors and from dusk into night when many biting insects are most active.
Luckily, there are ways you can keep safe when you are out and about.
Avoid bright colours - Do not wear bright colours or use strong scents such as perfumes and deodorants as these attract insects.
Reduce exposed skin - Wear long sleeves, trousers, footwear and hats.
Use insect repellent sprays - On exposed skin and repelling products or candles when sitting.
Avoid areas with water - Keep clear of slow moving or still / stagnant water.
Tuck trousers into socks - When hiking through brush or rough grass and avoid brushing through long grass or bushes.
In Australia, it is rare for mosquitoes or biting insects to transmit disease. The main risk from mosquito bites is the potential skin irritation.
Reaction to bites will vary from person to person. Symptoms that develop are just our immune system’s response to their saliva. Mosquitoes don’t actually inject anything into us when they bite.
Clean the wound - this is the most important treatment for a mosquito or midge bite.
Use a cold compress - swelling can be reduced immediately after a bite by covering it with a cold compress such as ice in a cloth (but never hold ice directly on the skin). It may take more than a week to go down and may remain itchy for several days.
Take anti-histamines - itchiness and swelling can be relieved with anti-histamine creams for bites and stings. Oral anti-histamine (“hayfever tablets”) can also help especially if you have multiple bites.
Do not scratch - avoid scratching as this will increase the itch and could lead to the bite becoming infected by bacteria.
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