The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Mosquitoes have been pestering humans since the dawn of time and it doesn’t look like it’s a trend that’s going to come to a halt anytime soon. Besides being annoying, these tiny bloodsuckers carry and spread all kinds of diseases to their victims. The Chikungunya virus, dengue’s nasty cousin, is one of the most recent additions to the list of problems they can cause.
With the emergence of this debilitating new virus, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly if you live in Costa Rica, the Caribbean, or Latin America. In no particular order, here are some of the best ways to prevent yourself from becoming a three course meal both around your home and while on your next adventure:
1. No eggs No mosquitoes
The first step in controlling the mosquito population – thus keeping them from biting – is to keep them from breeding at all. Since tiny mosquito condoms have yet to become popular, the best form of mosquito birth control is to eliminate their breeding grounds, which consists of calm, standing water.
Even an upside down bottle cap full of water can become a mosquito egg nursery, so keep trash picked up (or better yet recycled) and don’t let empty containers or puddles collect water near your home.
2. Let Nature Take Its Course
As humans, our first instinct is to conquer and dominate, especially when it comes to the creepier parts of nature like bugs. However, when dealing with mosquitoes, it could be in your best interest to put away the can of Raid and allow Mother Nature and all her freaky little insect children help restore balance; spiders, ants, and beetles are all expert mosquito hunters.
Not interested in going that route? There are other animals without exoskeletons that can help to naturally protect your home from mosquitoes such as chickens, airborne birds, frogs, bats and pond fish.
Additionally, for the gardeners out there, many plants are thought to be mosquito repellants: basil (Ocimum basilicum), catnip (Nepeta cataria), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus), lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), and rose-scented geraniums (Pelargonium asperum). As an extra bonus, you’ll have incredibly happy, lemon-scented cats.
3. When Life Hands You Citronella…
Don’t make lemonade. However, like the plants mentioned above, the lemony freshness of citronella oil is one of the top natural deterrents for skeeters. It can be slathered on your skin directly, used in candles, or even sprayed around the house.
4. Work It From The Inside Out
Have you ever heard of the expression ‘Healthy from the inside out’? Many believe that this rings true for repelling mosquitoes as well. However, with this health plan you won’t have to give up bacon.
Although research and opinions differ, some people swear that loading up on B vitamins positively affects your body chemicals to deter mosquito bites. Even though the full truth behind this theory is unknown, at least you’ll give your immune system a boost, even if you’re still getting eaten alive.
5. Let’s Get Physical
If you live near a river or have really terrible neighbors with lots of old tires and trash in their yard, your options might be more limited in what you can do to prevent mosquito bites. An oldie but a goody method for keeping them at bay, especially while sleeping, is through the use of a mosquito net.
These nets create a physical barrier around your bed to keep the mosquitoes out while allowing plenty of airflow in. Just think of it like a breathable pillow fort every night of the week.
6. Bring on the DEET
Sometimes, when all else fails, you just got to bring in the big guns. In this case, it’s a synthetic super repellent for mosquitoes that’s applied directly to your skin called DEET. While more natural and potentially less carcinogenic options do exist, DEET is a proven and effective way to keep skeeters at bay when you’re hiking or out and about on some other adventure.
Just to be safe, make sure to keep it away from all major orifices and don’t use it as a daily moisturizer.
By Lindsey Vast
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose, Costa Rica