WASHINGTON — Everyone knows about bug spray, but if you’re serious about keeping that bite count down, there are more ways to prepare for those mosquitoes descending upon the D.C. area.
Looking at the backyard bucket where he collects his local mosquito specimens, University of Maryland entomology professor Mike Raupp says simply, “I think there will be blood.”
He told WTOP Monday morning that the oversize mosquitoes witnessed across the area today are “awesome” but they aren’t biters. It’s the next week that the region has to watch out for, thanks to last month’s rains and current hot weather.
“Personal protection is your best bet,” he said, and there are myriad ways to do it.
First, Raupp says, eliminate any standing water in the yard. That would include bird feeders, wheelbarrows and drains that were collecting water over the last month’s rain.
Next, when working or playing in the yard, it’s smart to wear long sleeves and long pants if you don’t wan’t to to be lunch.
The best bug spray for hours of protection is still Deet-based repellents, he says, but there are more all-natural alternatives, including lemon eucalyptus oil, which Raupp says can provide up to four good hours of protection.
Sitting out on the back deck or terrace during these times can be really trying, too, but there are ways to lower the frustration, says Raupp. Citronella candles are great, “and can reduce the bite count so they’re a good idea.”
Fans are another option.
“I’m a big fan of fans,” he said. “I like to have a couple big box fans on the patio,” kicking up the breeze to about four or five miles an hour, “to a very gentle breeze, which will make it very difficult for these mosquitoes” to operate.
Is is true mosquitoes are attracted to some humans more than others? “Yeah, absolutely. There are more than 100 volatile compounds that come off the human skin,” and skeeters tend to zone in on certain ones. “It turns out some of us are attractors and some of us are not.”
“My wife is an attractor,” Raupp noted, and when he goes for a hike, “I am making sure my best buddy is with me.”