By Lina Younes
Lately, I’ve noticed increased mosquito activity in my neighborhood. While I’m not actually seeing these pesky bugs, I have definitely been the victim of their bites. I’ve always been a virtual mosquito magnet. And I was happy that for most of the summer I had been spared because I was taking preventive steps. So I wondered, what was I doing wrong now? What was different?
I couldn’t confirm scientifically that my mosquito bites were directly related to a larger mosquito population in my area. Nonetheless, I think I found the likely cause of these attacks. What was my conclusion? Well, it was an issue of timing: when did I suffer more bites? Early in the evening while I was walking the dogs.
The fact is that many kinds of mosquitoes tend to be most active at sunset and early in the evening. The time that I have to take the dogs out is basically after our family dinner. Since days are starting to get shorter as we transition into fall, , that’s right after sunset. Unfortunately that is exactly when mosquitoes are most active. In other words, my dog-walking activity becomes the mosquitoes’ dinnertime. Boy, have they been having a feast! Since I can’t really delay the time I have to take the dogs for their walk, the best thing I can do is to wear clothing that will cover my skin and apply insect repellent adequately (according to the instructions on the label, of course).
Mosquito bites shouldn’t be taken lightly. In fact, diseases caused by mosquitoes are among the leading causes of illness and death in the world today. Some of these diseases include the West Nile virus, viral encephalitis, dengue, yellow fever and malaria, to name a few. Just because you might not live in a tropical area doesn’t mean that mosquitoes won’t affect you. With changes in climate patterns, including warming trends in certain areas and increased rainfall, mosquitoes that carry some of these deadly diseases are thriving in areas that go well beyond their traditional habitats.
So, at minimum, get rid of standing water around your home to interrupt the life cycle of the mosquito. And don’t forget about the timing!
About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.