Nobody likes mosquitoes. Even dogs and birds hate them.
But you already know that. This article is not a defence of mosquitoes but an effort to explain why they exist at all. Everything except the human is there for a reason. When we start tampering with size and distribution, the natural balance is disturbed and populations become unnaturally large or small. So it is with the mosquito.
About 2,700 species of mosquitoes span the globe from the Sahara to the tropical forests of Brazil. Some like to feed at night. Others prefer morning meals. Many species bite people and animals, using the protein in the blood to reproduce. Some feed only on flower nectar. One species, Toxorhynchites, or predator mosquito, eats other mosquitoes (any importers interested?!)
What good is a mosquito?
Mosquitoes have actually repelled many military invasions. Napoleon, Alexander, the Nazis and many other marauders have been defeated by this tiny terror. Mosquito infestation has also ensured certain human-free habitats where wild plants and animals may survive.
One good thing male mosquitoes do is eats honeydew - the sticky aphid excrement that, in summer, covers many trees and the area around them. Think what a sticky mess the world would be if male mosquitoes weren't cleaning it up!
Like bees and other insects, they are also flower pollinators. In the Arctic, mosquitoes are the main pollinators of bog orchids. As waterborne larvae, they eat algae and bacteria. Destroying mosquitoes would trigger an increase in the populations of other annoying gnats and biting flies. Baby mosquitoes make great fish food. Mosquito larvae and pupae are good for many kinds of fish and insects such as dragonflies. Adult mosquitoes provide food for huge numbers of insect-eating birds and bats (bats consume 600-1,000 insect pests each hour). So mosquito is part of a large food chain. Removing them might not decimate other populations, but certainly they'd be sorely missed. The good news is that only 1 out of every 200 mosquitoes survives long enough to reproduce.
But they can go and be useful somewhere else.
Here are some suggestions of how to keep them away from you and your home.
Always shut the doors and unscreened windows before dusk. Mosquitoes use smell to hone onto their prey therefore repellents that rely on smell are the best. Any strongly scented herb – lavender, rosemary, basil will work but lemon scented ones are the most effective- citronella, lemon verbena, lemon-scented geranium, lemon balm etc. But first, you MUST release those essential oils, either by rubbing them onto your skin, or by burning the essential oils. One little candle, or plant won't suffice, you need lots of them around your living area, placed where people will rub up against them as they walk past. Pennyroyal a type of mint with a lovely peppermint flavour makes an ideal groundcover for partially shaded areas and repels ants and mosquitoes very successfully. Rubbed on the skin it keeps flies and mosquitoes away. Tulsi (basil) planted by the back door or in a window pot will deter mosquitoes. Occasionally, brush the plant with your hand to release the fragrance that you enjoy and mosquitoes don’t. Some people rub catmint on the back of their necks and wrists when they work in the garden. I take the seeds of the Morpankhi plant , as most villagers do , and rub them on the backs of my hands .Lemongrass or lemon peel applied on the ankles, wrists and the back of the neck just before dusk keeps them at bay in the evenings. Don't wear perfumes or scented deodorants. They attract more mosquitoes than humans!
I end my bath with a rinse of water mixed with lemon juice or lemon grass tea. Less appetising, is a garlic rub—guaranteed to keep mosquitoes as well as everybody else at bay!
Place pots of the scented geranium Pelargonium citrosum Vanieenii near doors and windows. "Vanieenii" is wonderful at warding off bugs. Many other scented geranium varieties also contain Citronella oils.
The Nepalese burn an herb called Loban on coal in their houses. Instead of burning something you could also make a spray: 3 parts lemongrass (or citronella), 1 part thyme, 2 parts lavender, 1 part peppermint (or eucalyptus). Mix together in a new plant sprayer and dilute with water if desired. Shake well before using. It smells pleasant and is safe for use around kids and pets.
Something I tried some years ago was to place half an onion on both bedside tables. The mosquitoes kept away but the smell was not thrilling.
Colour is another deterrent. White works best against mosquitoes. Dark colours especially blue denim jeans attract bugs (they must watch adverts too!). Many insects are drawn to blue and yellow, so avoid wearing these outdoors. Mosquitoes are more attracted to women than to men, or to people who eat a lot of sugar.
Herbs can also be used to relieve itching .Dab freshly washed bites with lemon juice or cider vinegar. Before bedtime, apply lavender or cinnamon oil on the affected area. As well as repelling mosquitoes these oils also soothe the itching.
There are lots of village and traditional mosquito repellents. Ask around for ancient remedies- one tribe, the Karankawas killed an alligator, skinned him, liquefied the fat and slathered it on! Kept quite a few things away, one of which was mosquitoes! Do you have any ‘nuskas’? Send them to: