Mosquito Myths You Should Never Believe
It seems like mosquitoes are that one pesky bug that you can’t seem to get rid of, no matter how hard you try. But they’ve also had their share of rumors started about them. Here are 15 myths about these tiny bugs, plus each myth’s debunked explanation.
Plus, read a few myths about the Zika virus, starting with Myth No. 11.
Myth 1: All mosquitoes bite
Mosquitos are everywhere, so it probably seems like all of them bite. But actually, only female mosquitos bite. Yes, the females are the ones who leave those itchy, swollen welts on your body and make you wonder why you didn’t bother to bring bug spray. Female mosquitoes bite because they need the nutrition in our blood to help their eggs develop. Despite popular belief, you won’t find a male planting itself on your skin.
Next: Mosquitoes are not like bees.
Myth 2: The mosquito dies after biting you
This is simply not true, but it’s understandable to think so because that’s typically the case with bees. But in reality, most female mosquitoes only bite you so they can develop eggs and create offspring. (In one type of mosquito, this is not the case.) If mosquitoes died post-bite, these little buggers would have been extinct a long time ago. She’ll bite you, lay her eggs, then continue to hunt down other humans. But most mosquitoes only have a life span of about less than two months.
Next: Your “sweet” blood is not real.
Myth 3: Mosquitoes like ‘sweet’ blood
Mosquitoes cannot tell whether or not your blood is sweet. Surprisingly, though, they do have a preference on blood type. A study done on mosquito preferences found that people with type O blood were more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than those with type A or B. Plus, some humans secrete a chemical through their skin that publicizes their blood type to mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are more likely to bite those who secrete the chemicals than those who don’t. Sweetness of the blood has nothing to do with it.
Next: Watch how much you drink.
Myth 4: Alcohol won’t affect a mosquito’s attraction to you
This myth hasn’t been completely debunked, but scientists do suggest that those who have consumed alcohol are more attractive to mosquitoes than those who have not. A recent study suggests that mosquitoes are more likely to land on those who have consumed at least one alcoholic beverage. But the alcohol content that researchers tested in sweat did not suggest a connection, so it’s still a bit up in the air about whether alcohol has an effect on mosquito bites.
Next: Does it matter what color you wear?
Myth 5: Your clothes won’t affect a mosquito’s attraction to you
This is false. Mosquitoes have a clothing color preference: They want those wearing dark clothes. If you wear light colors, such as white or beige, and the person next to you wears a black shirt, the mosquito will likely go for them instead. It’s assumed that mosquitoes like dark colors because those colors absorb heat, and mosquitoes have intense heat sensors.
Next: Can a mosquito tell when you’re pregnant?
Myth 6: Mosquitoes don’t care whether or not you’re pregnant
Actually, mosquitoes prefer pregnant women. A study done in 2000 found that pregnant women were twice as likely to be bit by mosquitoes compared to non -pregnant women. Researchers suggest that pregnant women exhale more, releasing more carbon dioxide, which may attract mosquitoes. Also, pregnant women have a warmer core temperature than non-pregnant women, and heat attracts mosquitoes.
Next: This method of protection actually isn’t very effective.
Myth 7: Citronella candles always protect you
Citronella has a solid ability to prevent mosquitoes. But those candles you put out on your patio have a very small range of effectiveness, so anyone sitting more than a few feet away likely won’t be protected. Plus, if it’s windy, the effect will be even less. You’re better off going for a bug repellent instead.
Next: Are all bug repellents created equal?
Myth 8: All insect repellents work the same
Insect repellents are not all created equal. Those that contain DEET, which is technically a pesticide, are more effective than those without. To be safe, don’t spray a repellent on yourself that contains a DEET concentration of more than 50%. But the most effective sprays usually have concentrations of at least 20%. Covering yourself with clothing is another good way to prevent bug bites.
Next: Are mosquitoes actually found everywhere?
Myth 9: Every continent has mosquitoes
Actually, Antarctica doesn’t have mosquitoes. But mosquitoes are pretty much everywhere on every other continent. Rather than escape to Antarctica, try to find better methods of protecting yourself from them. These bugs might seem like a part of life, but if you wear dark clothing and apply a safe bug repellent, you’ll be amazed at how much they’ll dislike you.
Next: Are these a good way to trap mosquitoes?
Myth 10: Bug zappers are a good way to trap mosquitoes
Bug zappers are pretty ineffective. They are great at zapping bugs, but they zap every bug — even the ones you didn’t really want to kill. And they make an obnoxious noise whenever you catch one. The majority of the bugs that get zapped actually aren’t mosquitoes, according to a study done by the University of Delaware. Lightning bugs were commonly zapped, and who wants to kill those friendly fliers? You’re better off ditching the bug zapper.
Next: Here are a few debunked myths about Zika.
Myth 11: You can get Zika through contaminated water
There are only few ways the Zika virus is spread. It can be spread directly through a bite from a mosquito, via blood transfusion, via sexual transmission, or passed from a pregnant mother to her unborn child. But other ways, such as drinking water contaminated by a Zika-carrying mosquito or sipping from an infected person’s drink, will not spread the virus.
Next: Is Zika treatable?
Myth 12: The Zika virus is treatable
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for a Zika infection. Since it’s a virus, it needs to simply run its course in the body. The symptoms of the virus are mild, such as fever, muscle aches, and headache, and don’t require any specific treatment. The cause for concern over Zika’s inability to be cured stems from the potential birth defects it can have on unborn children. The disease has been linked to microcephaly and abnormal brain development when passed from pregnant mothers to unborn children.
Next: Can you prevent Zika?
Myth 13: It’s impossible to prevent Zika
While there is no vaccine to prevent the virus, people can take steps to prevent it the same way they’d prevent bites from uninfected mosquitoes. Wearing clothing that covers the body is a good way to prevent bites. But if it’s too hot to do so, wearing light colored clothing and bug repellent containing DEET can ward off the mosquitoes that could potentially spread Zika. Also, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, avoid visiting areas that are more likely to carry Zika-bearing mosquitoes.
Next: How much should you care about Zika?
Myth 14: The Zika virus isn’t that big of a deal
Although the Zika virus has mild affects when the person gets sick, the virus can remain in the semen of men for months after the infection. If a male has intercourse with a pregnant female, the virus can spread to both the female and the unborn child. If you’re in a situation where are pregnant or you may have intercourse with a pregnant woman, the disease can be extremely serious and cause devastating birth defects in the baby.
Next: Is the Zika virus actually that common?
Myth 15: The Zika virus is common
Yes, and no. The Zika virus is something you should be aware of if you’re traveling to an infected area, such as Central and South America. But if you live somewhere like the northern part of the United States, it is very unlikely that you will contract the virus. The best way to prevent the virus is to exercise caution while traveling. And if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you and your partner should avoid traveling to areas where the virus is more common.
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