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Protection Against Mosquitoes in Your Home

If you have an Itch...........

Steven had had a busy day and was tired. It was that comfortable relaxed tired that comes from healthy exercise and the feeling of accomplishment. I must walk the dog more often he thought.

He had a satisfying dinner of beans on toast and went to bed, he read for half an hour and finally, after he had realised he had read the same line five times and still not understood a word, he turned out the light and drifted into…….. zzzzzzz.
“Just a minute” he thought to himself, “those are winks and I’m not asleep yet”
He pinched himself. No, definitely awake.
“Oh blooming heck,” Steven Grumbled, “there is always one”.

Fighting back the urge to lose his demeanour, grab something flat and start thrashing around the room he pulled the sheet up to his neck, rolled over and sank into a deep sleep.

Suddenly he was awake.

It was the depths of the night and he was itching, on his elbow and somewhere on his foot, an itch that, in the darkness totally took over his mind. He tried to ignore it but the itch became bigger than Ben Hur. He fell out of bed to find the lifesaver. Where was it? He stumbled around in the dark, no good. Eventually in desperation he turned on the light. It blinded him momentarily and, when his eyes had adjusted, he saw it there on the shelf - that little jar of sanity preserving balm. Fumbling in frustration he unscrewed the top and rubbed the magic ointment frantically on the red blotches on his skin and ever so slowly the itching started to subside. He fell back into bed and as he started to drift back into oblivion he moved a hand to scratch a rather sensitive part. Suddenly he was awake again…….

Next door someone stirred in bed. “Harry, someone screamed just then.”
“Probably that kinky bloke next door Edna, he’s balmy, go back to sleep love.”

Mosquitoes spread Malaria, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya

Mosquitoes are a bit of a pain but on a more serious note they can be deadly. In fact they kill more human beings than any other creature on the planet While most of the 2,700 species of mosquitoes are harmless and simply a nuisance, three species should be treated with respect (or disrespect as the case may be). The Anopheles mosquito that carries malaria and Aedes aegypti (Dengue Mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger Mosquito) that carry the four types of Dengue fever. Aedes mosquitoes also carry a rather nasty new threat, a viral disease called Chikungunya which has until now been found in Africa and India but is now being found in Singapore and some parts of Indonesia. In 2007 2.5 to 3 million people caught Malaria in Indonesia. Fortunately there is no malaria to worry about in Bali although in Lombok, Flores, Sumba and Sumbawa malaria is a major problem. Malaria mosquitoes tend to come out at dawn or dusk. Dengue is a different matter. There is no treatment for the virus and the increasing number of cases in Bali at this time each year is a cause for concern. Last year an expatriate statesman of the island nearly died from Dengue fever and only survived after being medivaced to Singapore.

Facts about Dengue mosquitoes

Let us start by understanding the enemy.

  • Dengue mosquitoes have striped legs but are more easily recognised by their behaviour:
  • They like to live indoors and bite people indoors
  • They are hard to catch moving very quickly, darting back and forth
  • They like to hide under furniture and bite people around the feet and ankles.
  • The bite is often relatively painless, so people may not notice they are being bitten or they may think they are being bitten by sandflies or biting midges.
  • The dengue mosquito prefers to bite humans during daylight. It is very cautious when biting, flying away quickly at the slightest disturbance.
  • The dengue mosquito does not fly very far, so if you get rid of mosquito breeding sites around your home, you will significantly reduce your risk of being bitten by dengu mosquitoes.
  • The dengue mosquito is unusual in that it does not breed in swamps or drains, and does not often bite at night.
  • They live 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Only females bite but trying to find a mosquito sexer can be a little difficult.
  • Carbon dioxide is the most universally recognised mosquito attractant and draws mosquitoes from up to 35 meters. They are also attracted by body odours such as lactic acid, movement and by infrared radiation (heat) of warm bodies.

How can we protect ourselves against mosquitoes?

There are several steps you can take around your home to reduce the likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes.

1      The most effective is to make your house mosquito proof by installing fly screens to your windows and doors. By carefully designing the flyscreens you can keep an attractive appearance on your house. Many villas have flyscreens as part of the standard window frames.

If you are adding flyscreens to existing frames take care to make sure you can still operate the door and window latches and it is advisable if they are designed so you can clean the screens and windows.

Plastic fly screen mesh has a tendency to stretch and go floppy. Metal mesh looks better, withstands the rigours of cleaning better but over time may go rusty.

Fly screens avoid the need for nasty chemicals and allow you to still enjoy cooling breezes.

2      Do a regular inspection of your property and get rid of any standing water. Even small drops can incubate mosquito larva.

3      Avoid living near stagnant pools and drain areas where even very small amounts of water can collect.

4      Fish and frogs eat mosquito larva so put fish into water filled plant pots and ornamental pools. There is also a local product called “Abate” that you add to water that kills the mosquito larva without harming fish.

5      Close off access points to wells, water tanks, toilet cisterns, drains and septics. In India during the last century large scale malaria eradication programs depended on covering water tanks, drains and septics and adding thin oil which lies in a very thin layer on the surface and stops mosquitoes breeding.

6      Balinese people in Sanur are claiming major success in planting a mosquito repelling plant around their houses. The plant is Liligundi (Vitex Trifolia) and it is also being used to make repelling incense. It is said that since a program started to plant Liligundi dengue cases in Sanur have fallen by up to 80%.

7      Use yellow light bulbs around the external areas of your house, yellow light does not attract mosquitoes as much as white light.

8      Have your property fogged on a regular basis during the wet season. Beware, make sure that the fogging contractor is using the right chemicals. Diesel or kerosene makes a lot of smoke and is a lot cheaper than the proper chemicals but does not kill the mozzies. Contractors like to save a bit of money.

9      In the house chit chats eat mosquitoes so treat them as your friends.

10     Insect repellent – very effective but makes you feel like someone sprayed you with hair lacquer. There is a very good local one called Autan but look for the fluid version rather than the lotion.

11     Keep a fan going near you, mosquitoes are not the best fliers

12     Wear long sleeved shirts and trousers.

13     Sleep with a sheet over you.

14     Have a shower, the locals will tell you that sweat attracts mosquitoes. They know that a shower before dusk keeps the mosquitoes away (they go and bite the smelly bloke next door instead).

There are other things you may try. Calamine lotion, citronella oil, mosquito coils, those little plug in things with mosquito pads, even ultrahigh frequency emitters, there are lots of products available, some people swear by them while others swear at them. At least 10 studies in the past 15 years have unanimously denounced ultrasonic devices as having no repellency value whatsoever. Fly Zappers have a UV light source that attracts flying things and a charged wire grill that electrocutes them. Unfortunately they tend to kill many types of flying creature including many useful ones and only around 4% of the catch are mosquitoes – not good for the environment.

Personally I have found it best to learn to live with mosquitoes.

So what is that magical balm that was Steven’s lifesaver? It’s Tiger Balm of course. It works very well taking the swelling away and relieving the itch. Be careful though, get it on a sensitive part and you too will scream in the night.

Copyright © Phil Wilson 2009
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