Why Do Mosquitoes Bite?
Female mosquitoes have piercing mouthparts through which they extract the blood of a host. The protein from gathered blood is used in egg production. Males do not bite and feed on blood. Instead, they get their energy from plant nectars and other sweet substances found in their habitat.
After puncturing the skin with their mouthparts and feeding on blood, mosquitoes leave hard, itchy bumps. In the blood-feeding process, mosquitoes inject saliva into their host which creates the reactions that cause bite symptoms.
Most mosquito bites are harmless and the symptoms subside in a few days. Some discomforting symptoms include swelling of the bite site, soreness, and bleeding. While mosquitoes are an itchy, uncomfortable nuisance, the important problem arising from mosquito bites is transmission of viral or parasitic diseases.
Symptoms & Reactions
Many mosquito species are such stealthy biters that most people never notice their first mosquito bites. Other species are ferocious biters whose bite is moderately painful. The symptoms of mosquito bites include:
- A puffy, white bump appearing a few minutes after the bite often with a small red dot in the middle of the bump
- A hard, reddish bump, or bumps, that shows up about a day after a bite
- Swelling around the bites
- Small blisters instead of hard bumps
- Dark spots that look like bruises
In children and people with immune system disorders, mosquito bite symptoms may include:
- A large area of swelling and redness
- Low-grade fever
- Swollen lymph nodes
Always seek the advice and assistance of a physician when dealing with mosquito bites.
While not particularly painful, the bite of a mosquito can create physiological responses in humans. When a mosquito inserts her proboscis through the skin, her saliva creates a small, red bump. These bumps produce mild to severe itching in many people. Some people may become less sensitive to mosquito saliva through repeated exposure, while others may develop allergic reactions.
Symptoms of an allergy include blistering and inflammation, as well as asthma like reactions. Mosquitoes also carry diseases such as yellow fever and dengue fevers, malaria and encephalitis and are capable of passing them from host to host.
In most cases, a mosquito bite produces a red, itchy bump, which can bleed if scratched. Those with mild reactions to a mosquito bite can take antihistamines to reduce itching and swelling. Consult a physician before taking any new medications. Over time, some individuals develop immunity to the saliva of a mosquito and do not experience any symptoms at all upon being bitten.
People who spend a great deal of time outdoors or already have compromised or weak immune systems are especially susceptible to mosquito allergies.
More severe symptoms include:
- Blistering rashes
- Excessive swelling
- Asthma attack
In the event of a severe allergic reaction to a mosquito bite, a medical professional should be contacted immediately.
When spending time outside, individuals with known or suspected mosquito allergies should cover their skin in khaki or beige clothing, as mosquitoes are not as attracted to these colors. Because mosquitoes may be attracted to certain smells present in soap, shampoos and lotions, these should be used in moderation and unscented varieties may be less attractive.
Mosquitoes are most active from dusk until dawn. If possible, avoid being outside during these times.
Risks Associated With Infections
As with most insect and spider bites, the risk of secondary bacteria infection exists. In addition, there is a risk of disease transmission from mosquito bites.
How To Identify Bite On Pets
Excessive scratching and minor swelling may be some of the indications of mosquito bites on pets. Much like people, animals may experience allergic reactions to mosquito bites caused by allergic compounds in the mosquito’s saliva.
The use of insect repellents is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Repellents should not come into contact with the eyes and mouth, and special care should be taken when applying repellent to small children. The use of citronella or insect repellent may be effective in avoiding bites.
After receiving a mosquito bite, a cold compress can be applied to the affected area in order to reduce swelling. Mild antihistamines and anti-itching compounds relieve itching . Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen can also be used. A paste made from baking soda and water may prove effective, as will calamine lotion.
Contact your physician before taking any new medications. If you experience more severe symptoms following a mosquito bite, contact a medical professional immediately.
- One-page fact sheet about mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases.
- Latest information from CDC about West Nile virus, a disease associated with mosquitoes.
- Latest information from CDC regarding other domestic (US) mosquito-borne viral diseases.
Mosquitoes and ticks are both public health pests and vector pests. As public health pests, they can transmit diseases reportable to and tracked by the CDC, and as vector pests, they are able to transfer diseases to humans. This means that mosquitoes and ticks are not simply annoying pests because of their bites – they are pests that should not be ignored, given their potential to possibly cause more serious health problems.
Mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as:
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) – Aches and fever are symptoms of EEE, which can also cause brain infections.
- Malaria – Signs of possible Malaria are fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
- West Nile virus – Symptoms of West Nile virus can be aches, rashes, severe headaches and fever.
- Dengue fever – Vomiting, rashes and a fever are common signs of Dengue fever. Another symptom is severe headache.
- Zika virus – Along with a fever and itching rash, Zika virus can also cause joint and muscle pain.
Ticks can transmit diseases like:
- Lyme disease – Signs of Lyme disease include fatigue and joint pain. Sometimes Lyme disease can even cause brain inflammation.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever – Symptoms can include fever, aches and vomiting. Sometimes these symptoms are accompanied by neurological changes.
- Colorado tick fever – Fever, muscle aches severe headaches and nausea are all possible symptoms of Colorado tick fever.
Mosquito and Tick Hot Spots on Your Property
You can take steps to help reduce mosquito and tick populations on your property by working with your pest management partner to minimize conducive conditions for each pest. By doing so, you can help reduce the habitats where they thrive. To make these changes, you must first identify mosquito and tick hot spots, which include:
- Building entrances – Ticks thrive in grasses and trees that make up your property’s landscaped areas. Landscaping close to your building entrance allows ticks to hitch a ride onto incoming customers and employees.
- Pools, ponds and water fixtures – Mosquitoes love moisture and can breed in as little as a bottlecap full of water, making these fixtures an enticing attractant.
- Outdoor eating areas and kitchens – These areas contain not only the landscaping and greenery ticks love, but also additional water and food, extending an even warmer invitation to mosquitoes.
- Playgrounds – Surrounded by greenery, playgrounds are also home to other pests, like rodents and rabbits, which can bring ticks with them. These areas are especially important to monitor to keep families safe.
Mosquito and Tick Prevention Tips
To help prevent mosquitoes and ticks from harming your customers, employees and business, consider taking proactive measures. Simple outdoor upkeep can help keep these pests at bay, such as maintaining landscaping; minimizing water build-up; and clearing away brush, fallen leaves, logs and other items they may use as shelter. Adding fans to outdoor areas with heavy foot traffic can help deter mosquitoes further, since they are weak flyers.
Further preventive measures include installing screens on windows and doors to keep pests from entering your building, installing traps in discrete areas and creating a 3-foot wide barrier between trees and grass using wood chips or gravel. Last, consider planting mosquito-repelling plants such as citronella, marigold, mint or lavender.
Hiring a professional to handle mosquitoes and ticks can take the pressure off of you and your employees. In fact, Orkin can help develop a customized plan including a comprehensive inspection, habitat modification, production application as needed and ongoing monitoring and maintenance for your property’s needs. With our assistance, you can do more than help protect your customers and employees – you can help protect your business.
Ready to help declare victory over vector pests this year? Learn more about our mosquito and tick services by scheduling a free audit at your property.