Remember: always follow the Leave No Trace principles when out in the wild.

Wildlife:Insect/Mosquitos

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Mosquito

Mosquitoes are nectar feeders, however, the female mosquito needs blood from animals to provide the necessary protean to produce offspring. While there are different types of mosquito, they can all be identified as having a long body, and a long skinny tube extending from their head (a proboscis, used for sucking fluids). Dragon Flies, which also have long bodies, love to eat mosquitoes.

All Mosquitoes require water, and can only breed in standing or very slow moving water. Generally moist meadows or edges of creeks and lakes make for great breeding grounds for mosquitoes (this also means they are a great place to get bit). They can also be found on coastal areas.

The redness of the bite area is caused by an immune system response to the chemicals the mosquito used to penetrate the skin and prevent blood clotting during the sucking process. Generally, you will not notice a mosquito biting you until after it has left.

Like all creatures that feed on blood, they are able to carry diseases that can be transmitted during the feeding process. The more common (though rare) are:

  • West Nile Virus -- flu like symptoms, normally only life threatening to children, elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.
  • Malaria -- parasitic infection that attacks blood cells, more common in South America and Africa.
  • Yellow Fever -- also primarily only a problem in Africa and South America.

The CDC only recommends two insect repellents: D.E.E.T (known to cause cancer in high quantities), and Permethrin (an insecticide and insect repellent only safe for applying onto clothing, and after waiting for it to dry). Permethrin is more expensive than D.E.E.T, but it is longer lasting (up to two weeks, and even stays after washing), and limits your exposure to cancer-causing DEET. Insect repellents applied to the skin often will leave it feeling a little sticky and smell, generally making a trip less enjoyable. As the saying goes, pick your poison...

The best defense actually would be to wear a mosquito net and clothing treated with Permethrin. As an added bonus, ticks won't live long enough after landing on your trousers to bite you.

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