Bumper mosquito crop bugs Nova Scotians
Zoologist says combined heat and moisture this summer to blame
A bumper crop of mosquitoes this year is all some in parts of Nova Scotia are talking about.
"They’re pretty nasty down here. I just got bit by one it felt like a bee sting almost," said Frank Melanson at his cottage in Tatamagouche.
The empty shelves in the bug repellant section at the Home Hardware in Tatamagouche say a lot. People have been snapping up mesh clothing and bug spray — anything to keep the mosquitoes at bay, said Home Hardware employee Valerie Cunningham.
"Probably anything that has a high percentage of DEET," she said.
Melanson’s wife Carolyn has been chasing mosquitoes indoors with a flyswatter.
"We were swatting those little fellers and as soon as you did you could see blood all over the wall, and we had to clean it off. So you know that they're very aggressive because they'd already bitten somebody," she said.
A mosquito’s life span is short.
Zoologist Andrew Hebda, with the Museum of Natural History, said a summer of combined heat and moisture means they're reproducing more often.
"By the end of the season, I suspect instead of having five or six emergences of mosquitos over the year, we'll have had seven or eight. So we're doing good that way," he said.
But the Melanson's won't let bugs spoil their family's time together.
"It's not bad," said Melanson. "It's summer right, what are you going to expect?"
Recent studies indicate that mosquitoes prefer pregnant women and people who tend to be larger. They also tend to feed on adults more than they do on children.
Tips to keep mosquitoes at bay:
- Reduce standing water sites around your home (bird baths, toys, flower pot saucers, swimming pool covers, etc.) where mosquito larvae thrive.
- A clever trick to keep mosquitoes away from you is to keep a fan running. Mosquitoes are poor fliers and can’t fly in a breeze.
- Avoid going out at dawn and at dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wearing light-coloured long sleeves and long pants.
- There is some anecdotal evidence that suggests eating garlic helps to keep mosquitoes at bay, but there is no scientific evidence to back that up.
How to keep the dreaded itch at bay:
- Don't scratch. Doing so will only aggravate the problem.
- Deal with bites as soon as possible by cleaning area with alcohol.
- Antihistamines or topical analgesics can reduce itching.
- Strong alkaline solutions will ease itching (mixing baking soda and water, for example).
- An ice pack or a hot bath can provide relief.
- A solution of witch hazel and calamine is an effective itch-soother.
- Rubbing Aspirin or dabbing toothpaste on a bite is said to provide relief.