Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why Don't All Mosquito Bites Itch?

There are an identified 85 species of mosquitoes in Texas.  Not every single mosquito species feeds on humans, but that still leaves A LOT of mosquitoes that can!

The thing that itches from a mosquito bite is the saliva.  The female mosquito "backwashes" into you when she feeds.  The saliva contains substances that prevent the blood from clotting so her mouthparts don't get clogged up.  The saliva is what we have an allergic reaction to, causing the itching.

Every species of mosquito has potentially different enzymes, proteins, and substances in their saliva that we can react to.  Therefore, in one individual, you can have multiple reactions.  And each person can react differently from the next.

You see this when one mosquito bite itches like the Dickens, but is gone by morning.  Whereas others may not start itching until hours later and can last for days!  You also see this when a child has a terrible reaction to a mosquito bite and swells up considerably but you react with just a small welt.

Remember to avoid mosquito bites, avoid mosquitoes.  And since this is nearly impossible, the next best option is to use insect repellent.  The CDC and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension recommend three active ingredients based on the length of repellency they provide for mosquitoes vectoring diseases.  DEET, Picaridin, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.

Also be aware that each product may act different on different species of mosquitoes, so don't give up if one active ingredient doesn't seem to work - it may be working just fine... just not against the mosquito bothering you at the moment!

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