Tag Archives: Zika virus

Some Facts About Mosquitoes

Conjecture: Mosquitoes are probably the most annoying insects on the planet. Fact: They are one of the most dangerous animals on the planet. They’re a source of discomfort, a vector for disease, and they seem to be everywhere we are when enjoying nature, or lately, even just reading the news. Here at Pocket Ranger®, we and our sponsor Thermacell® want to talk about this pest that has brought itself to the forefront of our thoughts as the weather improves and we are drawn outdoors. We’re here to discuss the facts while underlining the importance of mosquito bite prevention.

mosquitoes are the worst.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito enjoying a meal. It’s astonishing the lengths folks will take to photograph these hungry blighters. [Image: www.cdc.gov/]

The Obvious

  • Mosquitoes make up the family Culicidae, approximately 3,500 flying, biting insect species best known for drinking blood from mammals, reptiles, birds, and basically anything else with blood they can sink their proboscises into. They tend to be crepuscular feeders, taking their meals at dawn or dusk.
  • In most mosquito species, female mosquitoes drink blood for protein that is essential to produce eggs before or after mating. Some species are capable of drinking as much as three times their bodyweight.
  • Particularly before they begin mating, female mosquitoes, like their male counterparts, subsist on the sugar from fruit and flower nectar.
  • The mosquito is a food source for birds, bats, amphibians, reptiles, and other animals, despite being a fairly well adapted hunter itself.

Mosquitoes in the U. S. of A.

A map showing mosquito ranges

This map shows the potential ranges of the invasive mosquito species Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictis in the United States, but does not detail the mosquitoes’ populations or risk of disease transmission. Aedes aegypti is a known carrier of the Zika Virus. Aedes albopictis is not confirmed as a vector here, but could become a viable transmitter of Zika and other diseases. [Image: www.cdc.gov/]

Though West Nile Virus is now endemic in California, mosquito-borne illnesses like Chikungunya, Yellow Fever, Dengue, Malaria, and other dangerous infections are not common in the continental United States. From a historical standpoint, and as a sweeping general rule, the roughly 200 species of mosquitoes in the U.S. tend to be a nuisance to folks spending time outdoors rather than a transmitter of diseases. We’ve been very fortunate in that way.

However, these days, particularly while discussing mosquitoes, we can’t help but talk about the very present context of the Zika Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. Aedes aegypti has been indicated as the primary agent of Zika, largely because it favors living in close proximity to its preferred food source: humans. Aedes aegypti enjoys a comfortable potential range that would extend throughout much of the southern and coastal portions of the U.S. where weather and temperature are a bit more within the mosquito’s varied tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate preferences. And, well, it’s just good practice to prevent or avoid mosquito bites by any reasonable means, regardless of Zika or any other illness, no matter where you live.

Ways to Naturally Prevent Mosquito Bites and Hinder Population Growth

[Image: www.mosquitomagnet.com]

It looks like a great place to clean your feathers, but it’s not a good idea to have one of these hanging around without also having a way to mitigate the mosquito eggs that could hatch from the waters. [Image: www.mosquitomagnet.com/]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states on its website, “The best way to prevent Zika and other viruses spread through mosquito bites is to prevent mosquito bites.” Well, when you put it like that, CDC! Thankfully, there are many easy and natural ways to reduce the incidence of mosquito presence and mosquito bites.

  • Wear protective clothing. You can wear long sleeves and pants to reduce the area a mosquito can dig in. Or if it’s just too unbearable to wear that much fabric, you can wear bug spray, DEET, or any number of other topical remedies. Just be sure if you’re wearing sunscreen. too, you apply insect repellent last. Or, as we’ll get to in a minute, there’s an alternative to any of that smelly stuff.
  • If the water’s standing, flip it over. Or use it to water a plant. Birdbaths may be quaint, but they are mosquito nurseries. Rainwater repositories, horse or livestock water troughs, your dog’s outside water bowl, a non-aerated koi pond, and any other number of vestibules and yard items can contribute to your home’s immediate mosquito population. You can mitigate this by simply taking steps to make sure water isn’t sitting or stagnating for days after rain.
  • Herbs and flowers can save your skin. You can plant and grow mosquito repellent plants. Do some research about what grows best in your climate, but trust in the staples like peppermint, lemongrass, basil, garlic, the popular citronella, and even catnip! Most of these plants can be bought already grown, are fairly easy to maintain, and have uses beyond driving bugs away.
  • Choose a repeller you trust. In the spirit of saving the very best for last, you’re probably aware by now that there’s a virtually odorless mosquito repellent with a 98 percent effectiveness rating that requires no oily bodily application. Our favorite way to reduce the chance of mosquito bites is with Thermacell® appliances that wield allethrin, a synthetic copy of the natural mosquito repellent found in chrysanthemums that forms a 15′ by 15′ shield around your outdoor work or hangout space. You can find out how this terrific tool works here.

Thermacell logo.

A combination of all these solutions are the ideal way of reducing incidence of mosquito interaction around your home or campsite, but you’d do well to keep your Thermacell appliance nearby wherever you are. [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

For all the frustration mosquitoes might impose on our lives, the world is just too great and offers too many nature-packed reasons to warrant a life confined to netted spaces or freezing climates. Download a Pocket Ranger® mobile app, gear up with your Thermacell®, get out there, and explore!

How the Thermacell® Mosquito Repellent Works

Hello, outdoors folk! We’re here again to talk about our sponsor Thermacell® and its mosquito repellent devices!

Thermacell mosquito repellant logo

Image: www.thermacell.com/

As you probably remember—or perhaps know from personal experience—the devices create a 15’ x 15’ “mosquito protection zone” that also repels other types of flying, biting insects, like black flies and no-see-ums, while being virtually odorless and leaving none of the usual oily residue or acrid perfume of lotion and spray insect repellents. The lanterns, torches, and repellers are used by hunters, gardeners, campers, hikers, military personnel, and folks who just love hanging out on their porch, patio, or in their backyard. But we’ve hardly scratched the surface of HOW the devices work.

The EPA-approved devices have a 98 percent effectiveness rating and have been tested across the globe in swamps, tropical climates, and across the good ol’ U.S. of A. And perhaps the part that makes it so effective is that it is easy to set up and uncomplicated to operate. You simply screw in the butane cartridge and install a blue allethrin-dipped mat, turn the device switch ON, and press the START button.

Once your device is lit, the science comes in. The butane inside the device heats the grill that overlays the mosquito repellent mat. This, in turn, causes the liquid allethrin in the mat to vaporize and diffuse into the air through a process not unlike that of an aromatherapy candle—but much more helpful in the field:

molecules showing diffusion on how mosquito repellant works

Once vaporized, the particles are able to maneuver about the air like a born-and-bred New Yorker through Grand Central—swiftly and without making any eye contact. [Image: www.bbc.co.uk/]

Once vaporized, the allethrin is able to move freely through the air, and in less than 10 minutes, you’ll be enjoying a force field that repels mosquitos and other biting insects. It might even look this cool to your imagination:

boys camping and using thermacell mosquito repellant

“Good thinking, Jordan! Your DMB covers will definitely also help to keep the mosquitos away.” [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

The butane cartridge lasts for 12 hours and the repellent mat last for four hours, which is plenty of time to settle your poker game or reel a couple of fish in for dinner—or both. And since changing them out is such a breeze, if the poker game runs long, the fish aren’t biting, or you just want to enjoy the sounds of nature at dusk, twilight, midnight, or later, you’ll have the back-up you need.

Negroni, anyone?

“Ha ha, excellent! I haven’t had a mosquito up my nose in over an hour!” “I haven’t, either! These torches are great!” [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

Of course, nature is the boss whenever we step outside. and high winds are a natural deterrent to both mosquitos and the benefit of a device that repels them. When using a Thermacell product, it is best to choose an outdoor location where there is little wind or minimal air movement. When you’ve found a spot of relative calm, the Thermacell product is most effective when placed near the ground. If there is some wind where you are hoping to use the appliance or lantern, you’ll have the best results if you place it upwind of your work or relaxation space so that when the breeze comes, it brings the repellent along with it.

And if you’re like your author here, when someone tells you that a product works great, you definitely want to try it for yourself before you buy into the hype. Thermacell, like all companies that have faith in their products, offers a full refund if you find yourself dissatisfied with the results. So gear up with your Thermacell appliance and Pocket Ranger® mobile app, and get in the field!