Mossies – the bane of Jacqui’s life

LAST UPDATED: 23 Apr, 2011 @ 22:35
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Mossies – the bane of Jacqui’s life

WE have a coastal nature reserve called Puntas Entinas close to Almerimar. It stretches for a number of kilometres from the edge of our town to the edge of Roquetas de Mar to the east of us.

The nature reserve is a great place for people who like bird watching. Sadly, in my view, it is not promoted enough or maintained well enough to bring enough twitchers to the town to help with tourist income but that is another story.

My big issue with the nature reserve is that it is a perfect breeding ground for mossies. This in itself may not be a major issue if work were to take place to control the mossie population. However due to a dispute between our local council and the Junta de Andalucía neither party will accept responsibility for spending the money that is necessary to control the number of mossies in the nature reserve.

We have been lucky this winter and have not had a lot of rainfall in the Almerimar area. This means that there is a lot less standing water in the nature reserve. This has led us to have much less of a mossie problem recently compared with last year. Nevertheless this is an issue that still needs to be addressed.

The local council sprays areas of the town to attempt to keep the level of mossies to a minimum. In addition the owners of our local golf course spray the course to try to minimise the negative effect of the mossies for locals and visiting tourists. In my view most of this work is almost futile as the mossies just come back into town again from the nature reserve.

I have found that I am most likely to be bitten when I am playing golf. That is good news for me. The mossies have little impact on me as I am a hayfever sufferer so prior to playing golf I take an antihistamine tablet. Not only does this reduce my hayfever problems it also means that any mossie bites I get do not seem to be very itchy, thank goodness.

If only the same were to be said for my wife Jacqui. She is very prone to getting bitten by mossies and reacts badly to the bites even with antihistamine tablets and anti-itch cream. If you poured out the amount of mossie spray she buys in a year you could probably sail a yacht on it. The only good news is that Mercadona has a brand of spray that is much cheaper than the well known international brands. Also it seems to be just as effective so in my view is much better value.

One of the outcomes I am hoping for from the upcoming local elections is that whoever wins at a local and regional level they work together to solve the mossie problem and make Almerimar a better place for both residents and tourists.

Jacqui’s dislike of mossies led her to do some research on the subject a while ago. Here is the information she found on the internet:

Why do mosquitoes bite?
Only female mosquitoes bite. Female mosquitoes require a blood meal to acquire the protein needed to produce eggs. Females lay multiple batches of eggs during their lifespan, and a new blood meal is needed to produce each batch. Different mosquito species prefer different host species; some mosquitoes will seek blood meals from birds, others from mammals – and some are generalists. The female inserts her needle-like proboscis – a slender, tubular, feeding and sucking organ – under the victim’s skin, drawing blood into her abdomen. She will feed until her abdomen is full, unless discovered and brushed away.

Why do mosquitoes seem to bite some people, but not others?
This phenomenon is not completely understood. Mosquitoes are attracted by the carbon dioxide that we – and other animals – exhale. They may also be attracted by various odours – perfume, perspiration, lactic acid, detergents – that combine in unique ways to make one victim more attractive than another as a meal. As dark colors absorb heat and lighter colors tend to reflect heat, mosquitoes also tend to be more attracted to victims dressed in darker clothes.

Why do mosquitoes bites itch and swell?
The itching, swelling and burning from a mosquito bite is caused by the body’s autoimmune response to the saliva injected by the mosquito when she feeds. This saliva contains anti-coagulating agents that prevent the victim’s blood from clotting as it is sucked into the mosquito’s abdomen. A bite may take several days to heal and stop itching; treat it with Calamine lotion or an anti-itch medication.

Where do mosquitoes breed?
Mosquitoes breed in wet, swampy areas where they lay their eggs. The eggs hatch in the water and the young mosquitoes spend their pupal stages in the water. Mosquitoes lay eggs in both fresh and polluted water and seek still waters such as those found in small puddles, ditches and ponds. Even a small amount of standing water – say in the bottom of a flower pot – will provide sufficient habitat for mosquito eggs. These eggs usually hatch about 5 days after they are laid. A key factor in mosquito prevention is the elimination of standing water in an area.

What is the average lifespan of a mosquito?
Like most insects, mosquitoes are a prime food source for birds, amphibians and spiders. Between predators and extreme weather events such as drought and harsh rains, most mosquitoes live for an average of about two weeks in their adult form. If they manage to escape predators, females from some mosquito species live to about two to three months of age. Those females who enter adult form late in the season may go into hibernation as cooler weather approaches. They can emerge the following spring to lay eggs. In many species eggs laid before the onset of cold weather can also survive through a winter. Even without water, re-hydrating in spring rains to go through larval, pupal and adult stages.

How many types of mosquitoes are there?
According to the American Mosquito Control Association, there are more than 2500 species of mosquitoes world-wide.

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  1. Why indeed do mosquitoes favour certain people? I am one. As a teenager I fell asleep in a field in the daytime in Germany (sleeping it off actually) on a holiday with two school friends. On awakening I had more than fifty mosquito bites from the waist up. One friend had about five and the other none at all. the lady running the Youth Hostel where we sought refuge dabbed me liberally with calamine lotion.

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