Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Let's Talk 'Skeeters...!

Like it or not, we here in Houston have to deal with these little buggers a lot!

I had no idea, though, that we had so many different kinds of the critters! Probably a good thing that I didn't know, because I can't do anything about them except gripe!

I've probably tried just about every kind of repellent known to man, but I still get bitten a lot. When I drank a lot of beer in my younger days, it seems to me I didn't get bitten quite as much...but it could be that the booze just made those memories fade away some, ya know?

Anyway, it seems that we have 55 or 56 different kinds of mosquitoes here in the greater Houston area and you know what? They all bite! A lot!!

Here's a story from the Houston Chronicle that tells a little about this critter!

The hated mosquito comes under scientific scrutiny

Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle
July 6, 2010, 6:08PM

Sure, they are part of the food chain. They may pollinate something, but what and how much is a subject of study. But mostly they breed, pester, attack and, sometimes, transmit disease.

"They do keep entomologists employed," joked Dan Kline, a research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Gainesville, Fla. "That's a good thing. But other than that, I'm really hard-pressed to say something really nice about them."

They are interesting in their many varieties.

Kline is particularly interested in what attracts and repels them.

Mike Merchant, an urban entomologist in Dallas, studies Texas' rogues gallery of pests including cockroaches, termites and fire ants.

"I guess I'm interested in mosquitoes because they bite me," said Merchant, who works with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, an agency of the Texas A&M University System.

And they do bite, morning, noon and night, said Molly Keck, an entomologist with the San Antonio office of the extension service.

Though they often bloom, so to speak, after a rain, mosquitoes can always be a problem, Keck said.

"I would say they are bad every single year," she said, "whether we have a lot of rain or we don't."

That faint buzzing sound driving you crazy? 10 facts to divert your attention:

1.More than 3,000 varieties of mosquito inhabit the world. More than 200 live in the United States. San Antonio is home to more than 50, and Houston has 55 or 56 varieties.

2. Only female mosquitoes bite and suck blood. They need the protein to produce eggs.

3. After the bite, the result - think red welt and itching - is an allergic reaction to mosquito saliva.

4. It is better not to smack a mosquito if she is biting you. That can make the reaction worse. Better to take the pacifist approach and let her do her thing.

5. Mosquitoes don't survive very long after they feed on blood. They usually lay their eggs and then their business on Earth is done. Their life span is usually not much longer than three weeks.

6. Most mosquitoes don't bite humans or carry disease. But the ones that do both can be a problem.

7. Asian tiger mosquitoes, scientifically known as aedes albopictus, are among the most common in urban areas and have a reputation for being nasty. They are daytime feeders. The species was imported from Asia in the 1980s in tires. Its first stop in America was Houston, said Rudy Bueno, director of Harris County's Mosquito Control Division.

8. Another Texas favorite is the Southern house mosquito, or culex quinquefaciatus. This mosquito usually feasts on birds but will creep into a home and bite humans at night. It can carry West Nile virus and encephalitis.

9. Mosquitoes are attracted and repelled by smell and heat. What smells attract them is one of the issues that Dan Kline of the United States Department of Agriculture researches. But it is clear some mosquitoes are attracted to some people more than others. They like natural odors, such as body odors. We know they don't like DEET.

10. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors. Yet another reason to wear white linen in the summer.
Sources: Dan Kline, research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Gainesville, Fla.; Mike Merchant, urban entomologist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Dallas; Molly Keck, entomologist and integrated pest management program specialist with Bexar County's Texas AgriLife Extension Service; Rudy Bueno, director of Harris County's Mosquito Control Division

Taking precautions against mosquitoes can have benefits for health and peace of mind.

Be aware of where mosquitoes breed. Many times it is a bucket of water, a birdbath, a tarp with water on it, backyard clippings or junk in the yard that is creating the problem.

Wear repellent. Most mosquito specialists consider DEET effective and safe. Picaridin and lemon eucalyptus can also help.

Stay inside when mosquitoes are most active. That means dawn and dusk, though some mosquitoes bite day and night.

Seal doors and windows. This cuts down on the chances they will get in. Also, close the door behind you.

Source: Mike Merchant, an urban entomologist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Dallas
Just as you thought, mosquitoes have few redeeming qualities.

There ya go! More information than you ever wanted to know about the 'skeeter! One thing about it, they are probably here to stay!

Now, my friends, let's get some fresh coffee and sit outside for a bit! Don't worry, I got plenty of bug spray to share!


Anonymous said...

I hear that - I hate skeeteers too! Hurricane Alex and TD2 gave us a bumper crop of them devils and they are a real menace.

Hurricane Dolly did much the same too several years ago, and I thought I took the right step - bought me a mosquito bug suit. The type you see in catalogs for $30 - $40, brown net that fits over your clothing. Being frugal, I purchased a hunting model, the one with camoflauge leaf pattern stuck on the outside (figured it might as well be useful in TWO situations). This suit has a hood, as well as face net that tucks inside your collar. All you need are gloves and you are set.

I used it this past weekend while cutting our pasture frontage (mosquitoes in the rurals is REAL BAD) and my theory worked - bug suit worked like a charm! Halelluleah!

Anonymous said...

I get worried when I hear them discussing "Dine In or Take Out". Garlic works for me, maybe that's why I'm such a hermit?

Anonymous said...

I just remembered,
You can tell if it's a Texas mosquito by the brand of hot sauce it's carrying.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Yep we got them litte nasty buggers here on the VA eastern shore too, HJ. It really gets bad around the water areas, which is why we curtail any summer trips to the Chincoteague wildlife refuge. The lack of rain here might be keeping the skeeter level down somewhat. Still, I can be outside on a summer evening for under 10 minutes and they will find me. I might just have to come over for some of that buy spray, especially if it's Texas strong!

Ben in Texas said...

Little buggers used to really bug me,,but When I quit beer they don't seem to as much any more. And I agree the garlic diet helps a lot, and maybe don't bother me as much cause I smoke?

Baby Sis said...

Bubba -
I've heard that carrying a dryer fabric softener sheet in your pocket helps repel the little devils - least that's what lots of the golfers around here do. And last week heard that the ones you hear buzzing are not the problem - it's the tiny ones that you don't hear that carry the West Nile virus - hope I don't find out!

If we get Mom to bake more bread, maybe the yeast factor will work the same as from the beer - whadda you think? Least it'll be something good with peanut butter and apple butter!

Big hugs -

Bob from Athens said...

My son appears to have some natural repellent working for him. I have watched the nasty little biters fly up to him and turn away. I can't remember ever seeing him get bit. I keep asking him for a transfusion, but he is kinda stingy with his blood.

JoJo said...

Good Morning My Special One
Those nasty things love me too. I still need to give the dryer sheets a try. Sitting out up here in the mountains doesn't seem to be to bad.

HermitJim said...

Hey Anon 4:59...
I hadn't thought about the net suit, but that's a good idea!Especially if you are out mowing and cleaning up around places like the pasture frontage or a ditch area!

Guess it's just one of those things we have to put up with!

Hey, thanks for coming by today!

Hey YOF...
Seems like the garlic does help, but I'm worried about the ones that are developing a taste for Italian food!

Guess I need to put up a bat house like they use in Austin...seems to work a little there!

Thanks for coming by, buddy!

Hey Beatrice...
One thing you can say about them, they can find a food source without any problems!

I really hate it after a tropical storm, because they seem to come out in such large numbers!

Well, like I said...I can't do anything about them but gripe! Guess I'm just stuck with them!

Thanks for the visit this morning!

Hey Ben...
I keep hoping that I'll get too tough for them to be interested, but that hasn't worked yet!

Smoking doesn't seem to slow them down very much when it comes to biting me! In fact, I half-way ezpect one to ask me for a smoke!

I appreciate the visit today, buddy!

Hey Sis...
Seems like I heard about the dryer sheet thing before! Don't remember where!

Don't know if they are getting worse, or if I just notice them more because I'm getting older!

Maybe they will slow down if we don't get much more rain for a while! Who knows?

I sure am glad you could come by today!

Rae said...

I am scratching as I read. I am one of those that attract the nasty pests to bite me. Then I have gigantic welts that itch and drive me insane. I read somewhere that Absorbine Jr. is suppose to repel them. I have tried everything else without success. I might have to give that one a whirl too.

HermitJim said...

Hey Bob...
I can't imagine why the son wouldn't share a pint or two with the old man!

Ya know, when I was a bit younger, didn't seem to me that the skeeters bothered me much! Guess I just didn't notice them like I do now!

Must be an age thing! Hey, thanks for the visit today!

Hey JoJo...
I would have thought that being up in the mountains would have cut way back on the number of skeeters around there!

Guess the little rascals are everywhere!

Hey, sweetie, I do appreciate you coming by today!

HermitJim said...

Hey Rae...
I can certainly associate the itching part! Somehow these little guys have found their way inside the house, and I'm paying the price for it!

I thought the blood thinner would slow them down, but no such luck!

Thank yo so much for dropping in today!

Mechanic in Illinois said...

Here in the communist state of Illinois with all the rain we've had there's a bumper crop this year. We shoot them down with anti-aircraft guns. Thanks for another great lesson.

HermitJim said...

Hey Mechanic...
Might get to that point here in Texas before it's over with!

Providing we can hold off on the rain for a while, maybe they will slow down some!

Thanks for coming by today!

Kyddryn said...

Ugh, Mister Hermit, sir - we have plenty of the little here, too, and they're hungry all the time! Every time Someone goes out to the garden (which os frequent - all those tomatoes get thirsty!), he comes back in covered with welts, even when he covers up in repellent.

I don't know how anyone can keep from smacking one when they see it on 'em - it may make the reaction worse, but it's awfully satisfying.

Shade and Sweetwater,

HermitJim said...

Hey K...
I haven't found a way to NOT get bitten yet! Seems like no matter what I do or where I go...they find me out!

They were really bad when we went to the Battleship Texas Park last week! Virtually in a fog!

One of nature's blessings I can live without!

Thanks for coming by today, Momma!

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

Hi Jim!
I checked how many skeeters we have up here in the north noe after redaing this. It seemes we have 2250 different kinds here, but ""ony" 30 that wants our blood. That´s 30 to many :-) :-) :-)

In some places they have so many mosquitoes that they can´t go outside during summers, so now the gouvernement sprays a bacteria there that only attacks the blood sucking ones every spring. I wish there was something similar towards our horse flies too :-) :-)

Have a great day now!

Tatersmama said...

Ha! I was just working up a post on this very subject this morning, and then decided to take a break and catch up with friends!
The skeeters are BAD here right now, which kind of surprised me, especially with us being in the depths of winter, with freezing temps and stormy weather!
So I went reading. It seems that if the water freezes, they just lay dormant (eggs and adults) until it warms up (the water, not necessarily the temps.)

So yesterday, out of desperation I used hairspray on 'em - and it works! I can still smell a faint odor of the hairspray on the back porch this morning... but there are NO mosquitos hanging around on the walls - for the first time in months!!

HermitJim said...

Hey Christer...
That's lot of different kinds of mosquitoes! I thought that we were bad here, but it seems you have us beat!

We do have a few horse flies, but where I live they are not a problem! Thank goodness!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Marie...
I would have never thought about using hairspray! But then, I wouldn't think that the skeeters would be bad in the winter either!

Guess this is a universal problem, huh? Nice to know that there is something we all can share!

Hey, I appreciate you coming by today!

chinasyndrome said...

HJ,hate them skeeters.But my new worse enemy is chiggers 5 of us can go in the woods if one gets ate up by chiggers its me. Folks say God made nothing without a reason but skeeters and chiggers the reason is unknown to me.


Lamb said...

I'm in Beaumont, just down the road from y'all and the skeeters here are VICIOUS! I have heard reports of battalions of them dragging off house pets and small children....
My solution...when outside, I use my home-made repellent:
Put in blender:
2 cups Chrysanthemum chopped up (yes, go to florist and ask if they have any wilted ones. Cheaper that way!Use the WHOLE head of the flower, not just the petals!)
Grated rind of one lemon or a couple tablespoons of lemon zest (I prefer grating it myself, though)
a few drops eucalyptus oil (find it at your local health food store or Wal-Mart)
2 cups water

Put that blender on the highest speed and blend/puree for about 3 minutes.Until it is liquified.
Pour into jar and let set over night.
Strain into spray bottle.
Spritz on before you go outside.
Also repels chiggers and ticks somewhat.
Doesn't stain my clothes, either

Mayberry said...

The 'skeeters are horrific down here after our brush with Hurricane Alex, and the tropical wave. I swear I saw one with tail numbers today...

Bustednuckles said...

I try to not keep too much blood in my alchohol system.
The little buggers bite me and fall over dead drunk before they can inject their poison.
It works for fleas too.

Little bastards.
Sigh, now I need a cuppa Joe, it was a long night.