Florida is a great place to live in. Not only is the weather amazing, but it has hundreds of miles of sandy beaches and lovely attractions.
Despite the paradise-like location, there is a pesky problem Floridians have to deal with while being outside – mosquitoes.
Aside from their bite being painful, they can transmit deadly diseases as they bounce from human to human.
However, there are a few different techniques you can use to help keep mosquitoes away while adventuring in Florida.
Dangers of Mosquitoes
Several of the mosquitoes found in Florida can transmit diseases to humans and animals. The symptoms of these diseases can range from mild to severe. These diseases spread through the bite of a mosquito.
Scientists identified a virus called an arbovirus, which is responsible for the diseases. Some of the mosquito-borne diseases include:
- Dengue fever
- West Nile Virus
- Yellow fever
- Chikungunya fever
- Rift Valley fever
What you need to know about these diseases is that they affect people in different parts of the world too. But, if an infected person gets bitten while in Florida, it can lead to the spread of the disease.
In 2019, the Health Tribune reported rising cases of mosquito-borne diseases due to recent rains. The rains left standing water in Palm Beach County. This provided a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Health officials in the county recommended the draining of standing water to prevent breeding.
In July 2019, CNN reported the breakout of a deadly mosquito-borne virus. The virus, which causes brain swelling in humans, is called the Eastern equine encephalitis.
Health officials from Orange county noted that sentinel chickens tested positive for the virus. But they do not suffer the effects of the virus.
Reports reveal that 30% of people who contract the virus die. If one survives, he ends up having ongoing neurologic problems.
When Are Mosquitoes Most Active in Florida?
One of the perks of living in Florida is the year-round temperate weather. But when you combine the warm weather and the frequent heavy rains, what you have is a mosquito problem.
In Florida, mosquitoes are active in dawn and dusk. During this period, being outdoors without protecting your arms and legs leads to mosquito bites. Experts have identified that Florida mosquito’s species are most active in summer and spring but are still found year round.
During the first warm days of spring, the temperatures rise, creating an environment for mosquitoes to breed. As you may already know, mosquito larvae are aquatic. As such, water is an essential breeding ground.
Florida is home to more than 80 species of mosquitoes. Of these, 33 can transmit diseases to humans and animals. There are 13 of the mosquito species known to transmit dangerous diseases.
These diseases include encephalitis, Zika, and West Bile viruses. The most common mosquito species in Florida are:
- Psorophora ciliata
- Aedes albo pictus
Tips for Keeping Mosquitoes Away
Use DEET Based Repellent
The most effective spray against mosquitoes is the DEET based repellent. DEET based repellent works by binding the carbon dioxide receptors located on nose-like an appendage of a mosquito.
It is this appendage that the mosquito probes your skin and sucks blood. Instead of killing the mosquito, the repellent blocks its ability to feed. Basically, the mosquito will still land on your skin, but it will be unable to feed.
Scientists refer to DEET based repellent as the “gold standard of repellants.” It’s considered safe to humans if used properly.
What the Environment Protection Agency recommends is to:
- Use the right concentration of DEET based repellent
- Apply the repellant following the label instructions
- Do not use on children younger than 2 months and pregnant women.
Wear Permethrin-Treated Clothes
CDC recommends the treatment of clothes with permethrin, an insecticide for killing mosquitoes on contact, and can help reduce bites.
As a neurotoxic substance, it does not pose any immediate hazard or long-term danger. Several tests have shown that permethrin treated clothing offers a high level of protection.
In a study, researchers sought to find out the efficacy of permethrin-treated clothing against mosquito bites. What they discovered is that using permethrin-treated clothing is very effective.
Learn more: How to use permethrin on clothing, safely.
Wear Long Sleeves and Pants While Outside
Wearing long sleeves and pants protects your arms and legs from mosquito bites. The reason why mosquitoes bite is because your bare skin combined with sweat invites the pesky pests to feast on you.
So, whether you are gardening, or soaking up the rays of the sun, wear long sleeves and pants. What we recommend is loose cotton, long-sleeved shirt, and pants, white in color. This will help to reflect the sunlight away, keeping you cooler.
Also, lighter clothing is not attractive to mosquitoes. This is because they prefer brightly colored or dark clothing. Mosquitoes also love the smell of your sweaty feet. To avoid mosquito bites, skip the sandals and wear sneakers with socks or rubber boots.
Remember, mosquitoes can bite through tight clothing. So, avoid yoga pants and spandex.
Avoid Hiking/Paddling at Sunset When They Are Most Active
Mosquitoes are active at dusk. So, if you are hiking in your shorts and T-shirts, it means your arms and legs are already exposed. As such, mosquitoes will bite and even transmit diseases.
What we recommend is hiking later in the morning and early afternoon. You can also hike on open sunny trails and avoid the shady areas of the forest.
If you have to hike at sunset, wear permethrin-treated clothing, and carry DEET repellant.
Burn Citronella Candles
Citronella is a minimum risk pesticide and a naturally occurring oil. Distilled from two grass varieties, it repels insects and pests, such as mosquitoes. When you burn the citronella candle, the odor masks scent attractive to mosquitoes.
Citronella odor is most effective for the first couple of hours of burning. This is because the candle contains about 5% concentration of citronella. Also, it evaporates rapidly.
Treating Mosquito Bites
When a mosquito bites, it feeds on your blood. While doing so, it injects saliva, which contains proteins and an anticoagulant. Since the proteins are foreign, your body will release histamine to fight them.
This is what causes inflammation and itching. If you scratch the area, it will swell. There are a couple of ways to treat mosquito bites.
- Apply honey on the affected area
- Use rubbing alcohol
- Apply anti-itch medicine like Calmine lotion or Cortizone cream
- Place a cold tea bag on the swelling
- Prepare a basil bath
- Wash with soap and water
- Apply aloe vera
- Apply an oatmeal mask or prepare an oatmeal bath
There are remedies that, if used, could increase skin irritation. They include:
- Lime or lemon juice
- Baking soda
Although very rare, a mosquito bite can cause anaphylaxis. If this happens, seek medical attention immediately.
Some plants can repel mosquitoes away from your home and garden. A few examples include lemongrass, rosemary, basil, tagetes, lavender, geraniums, and horsemint.
Other tips to keep mosquitoes away include draining standing water, and turning empty pots upside down.
There are a ton of exciting adventures waiting for you in Florida, but if you don’t prepare to deal with mosquitoes then you could be in for a disappointing time.