The Unwelcome Critters of Summer


Country MoonIt's not quite summer yet, according to the calendar. Nevertheless, everything has turned green, flowers are popping everywhere, fireflies have made their appearance and the warm rays of the sun beckon us outside. This scenario would be perfect if it weren't heralded by the arrival of mosquitoes and ticks. How can two creatures that are so small make life so miserable for us?

Even with repellent on, it is nearly impossible to enjoy a pleasant evening outside because, even though they may not be lighting on you, they are buzzing everywhere else. Yes, mosquitoes are certainly the scourge of summer.

Why do they like us humans so well? Well, I was surprised to find out that not all mosquitoes feed on blood. Males drink nectars whereas the females feast on our blood to nourish their eggs. They usually go for ankles and wrists because the blood vessels are closer to the surface at these points which make it easier for them. The higher our body temperature is and the more we sweat, the more they like us.

When they bite us, they inject a small amount of their saliva to stop the blood from clotting. Our bodies react to this foreign substance by producing a protein called histamine which causes our blood vessels to swell and so we have the little bump. The itching results from an allergic reaction to their saliva.

Once you are bitten, it is usually more of an annoyance than a health issue unless you have a severe reaction in which case you should seek medical advice. Otherwise, icing the area of the bite can help by restricting the capillaries and reducing swelling. You can use a low-potency hydrocortisone cream for the itching and the third thing you can do is to simply have patience!

The hardest thing to do when mosquito-bitten is to resist the urge to scratch that itch. Different folks have different strokes for managing the itch. Some swear by rubbing meat tenderizer, lemon juice or a paste of mashed garlic and white vinegar on the affected area. Others use baking soda and water or oatmeal. Some folks take high doses of vitamin B-1 (100 mg) two to three times a day. Since it all depends on body chemistry, what works for one person may not for another.

6/15/2018 8:23:27 AM

Lois, It's always good to see a post up from you. Yes, those pesky mosquitoes are here in Nebraska too. I have found over the years that they don't like me much. Some one can sit right next to me and positively get eaten up with nary a bite for me. I'm not sure why but some have said that those female skitters like certain blood types over others. I have A negative which is 7 percent of the population. So maybe that's why they don't really care to bite me. They don't like that negative blood I guess. It's OK by me. ***** Now the ticks are taken care of my the wild turkeys that roam the neighborhood where I have my Terra Nova Gardens. In 7 years that I've had the garden there, I've never had a single tick on me. In fact I've never had a bug problem of any kind at the garden. It's been bug free except for a few butterflies and, well, cabbage flies. ***** Have a great mosquito free Pennsylvanian day. ***** Nebraska Dave

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