West Nile virus rears its ugly head this year, after only one case in Oklahoma in 2011. Already, we have 8 cases in the state, 4 of them in Tulsa county. While health officials assure us that the chance of contracting the disease is very low, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be careful. After all, even if only one in 100 mosquitoes carries the disease, there are 4 people in Tulsa to whom that made no difference. Let's send them all some good thoughts to recover quickly!
Everyone recommends using a repellent containing DEET. DEET was actually developed by the U.S. Army after experiencing jungle warfare during WW II. While DEET is very effective, some people are sensitive to it, and it may cause skin irritation, and it may dissolve your clothes. DEET is a solvent and can melt breathable fabrics like Gore-Tex. Yikes! The EPA has reported instances of "potential DEET-associated seizures," although the chances of that happening are one in 100 million. Scary, but we have to remember that DEET has probably saved countless lives. Some alternatives to DEET are:
Icaridin which is colorless and odorless - other names for it include picaridine, KBR 3023 and trade names Natrepel 8 hour, Bayrepel® and Saltidin®. According to WHO (the World Health Organization,) icaridin has excellent repellent qualities, often exceeding those of DEET.
Bite-Blocker® is a plant-based repellant made from coconut oil, soybean oil and geranium oil.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus
Avon's Skin-So-Soft® bath oil
If you opt for a natural product for mosquito repellent, bear in mind that you may have to apply it more often! Something as mild as Skin-So-Soft® may need to be re-applied every 30 minutes!
The Mississippi State Department of Health has an excellent page on their website about mosquito repellents and repellent safety.
GreenGrass offers a Mosquito Control program, so if you'd like to have your yard sprayed for Mosquitos, please feel free to check out our Mosquito Control page or request a free Mosquito Control estimate!
A Little Mosquito Trivia
If you want to go some place where there are no mosquitoes, I'm afraid you'll have to move to Antarctica. Mosquitoes are actually a family of flies called Culicidae, and there are 3500 species of them. The West Nile virus-laden critters we're dealing with are Culex mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are immune to the viruses they carry. West Nile virus is an arbovirus (ARthropod-BOrne)
One of the best mosquito repellents was introduced in the 1880's - window screens!
Mosquitoes cause millions of deaths in the world each year.
Although mosquitoes can carry yellow fever, malaria, dengue fever, Rift Valley fever, and the parasite that causes elephantiasis, EEE and WEE are considered to be two of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S., due to the high mortality rate. Eastern equine encephalitis and Western equine encephalitis can cause disease in humans, horses and some bird species.
Dragonfly nymphs are perhaps the most valuable natural predators of mosquitoes, since they gobble up mosquitoes in all stages of development.
Bats and purple martins eat a lot of insects, but the actual amount of mosquitoes they eat comprises a very small part of their diet.
Only female mosquitoes bite.