How to keep mosquitoes from turning you into a human buffet this summer

Posted at 7:28 PM, Aug 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-02 22:01:00-04

Ah, summer! The perfect time to get outside with the family, go to concerts with friends and become a living buffet for literal hundreds of bloodthirsty mosquitoes.

Wait — you don’t like that last part? Bad news: Mosquitoes become especially hard to avoid in July and August, typically the hottest and most humid months of the year, and Cincinnati weather has been especially kind to them in 2019.

“We had kind of a wet, warm winter, and we’re kind of relatively having a wet, warm summer,” University of Cincinnati biology professor Joshua Benoit said Friday. “It’s really great conditions for them to kind of grow and develop.”

And once they’re here, they have a built-in system for finding human snacks.

“Natural selection has delivered them a sensory system that allows them to track the carbon dioxide from our breath,” according to professor Mark Willis of Case Western Reserve University.

So how can we keep them away? There are no sure-fire ways to deter all mosquitoes from making your body into a picnic lunch, but experts recommend two steps to ward off the majority and reduce chances of being bitten.

First: Bug spray. Like sunscreen, it should be applied to every exposed part of the body. Consumer Reports recommends using your hands to apply insect repellent on sensitive or hard-to-reach places, such as ears, face and neck, avoiding eyes, mouth and nostrils in the process. It also advises paying special attention to the knees and ankles, which are especially attractive for both mosquitoes and ticks.

RELATED: With summer comes the mosquitoes: Which spray is best?

Second, avoid standing water and get rid of any on your property. According to Benoit, mosquitoes don’t need much more than a tablespoon of water to begin laying eggs.

Larges sources of standing water, such as a swimming pool or kiddie pool, “can be hotbeds for mosquitoes, and you could have thousands that are emerging out of there,” Benoit said.

That’s thousands every week, he added. Gross.

Although no mosquitoes in Cincinnati have tested positive for West Nile or Zika viruses this year, health officials found West Nile-carrying mosquitoes in nearby Symmes Township and Madison Township at the end of July.