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Avoiding Mosquito Bites and the Diseases they can Carry

Apart from the obvious problem that mosquito bites become itchy, avoiding mosquito bites is the one effective way of preventing mosquito borne diseases. Extra care should be taken with children and those with weakened immune systems due to chronic disease as they are more likely to develop an illness if infected by a virus than the general population. 

Why Do Mosquitos Bite People?

Only the adult female mosquito actually bites people, males will never have a blood meal. The female needs the blood for protein in order for her eggs to develop. After a full blood meal, she searches for a suitable place to lay her eggs.  The hatchlings (wrigglers, small larvae that are in constant motion) need water to survive and develop into adults. This usually takes from 3-4 days to around a week depending on the species. 

How to Prevent Getting Bitten    

  • Use an effective repellent on exposed skin areas. Re-apply within a few hours, as protection wears off from perspiration, particularly on hot nights. The best mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET less than 20%), so check the label. Note, however, that prolonged or excessive use of repellents can be dangerous, particularly on babies and young children. Avoid putting repellent near eyes and mouth, spread sparingly over the skin, and rinse off once you are indoors.
  • Provide mosquito netting, where necessary—both indoors and outdoors.
  • Cover up as much as possible with loose fitting clothing and sensible footwear. Avoid tight clothes.
  • Cover your clothes with repellent as mosquitoes can bite through material, but be careful, some repellents stain clothes.
  • Light mosquito coils or use vapourising mats. Note, however, that devices that use light to attract and electrocute insects have not been proved to be effective in reducing mosquito numbers.
  • Ensure you cover all windows, doors, chimneys, vents and other entrances with insect screens that are in good condition.

Tips to Help Remove Mosquito Breeding Sites Around Your Home      

  • Mosquitos breed in areas where there is standing water, even a centimetre depth of water is sufficient for many species.       
  • Where water must be available, for pets, in birdbaths and for other animals, it is necessary to change the water and flush out the container at least once a week.       
  • Cover water surface in any rainwater collection tank with a lid or a thin film of kerosene or parrafin.       
  • Clean out eaves, troughs and gutters.       
  • Remove old tyres or drill holes in those used for playground equipment to allow them to drain.       
  • Turn over or remove plastic pots.       
  • Pick up broken, discarded or unused toys and containers.       
  • Check tarps on boats or other equipment that may collect water in pockets or indentations.       
  • Store children's wading pools upside down when not in use.       
  • Change the water in the bottom of plant containers regularly.       
  • Remove vegetation or obstacles in drainage ditches that prevent flow of water.       
  • Fix dripping outdoor taps that create pools of water.

Useful Links

Vector Borne Diseases

Mosquitoes are a Health Hazard

Barmah Forest Virus Fact Sheet

Ross River Virus Fact Sheet

Learn More About Mosquitoes