Expect Twice the Bites This Season

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

The annual army of pests settling on your skin is on the march.

And if you've been thinking there are a few more around this year, one local Ph.D. is willing to back you up.

"This is one of the worst mosquitos seasons we've had in several years," Michigan State University Entemology Professor Ned Walker said.

Walker says mid-Michigan's already seeing two types of mosquitos.

"Both groups like to bite," he reminded us.

What's to blame for all the mosquitos? Our expert says it's not lakes or even stagnant ponds. Instead, it's temporary pools of water caused by recent heavy rains.

"The rains we had in May resulted in the emergence of summer mosiquitos at the same time our spring mosquitos emerged. So we have twice as many as we would normally have," Walker said.

What can you do about it? Some use expensive zappers or even expensive electronic mosquito repellers. Our expert isn't among them.

"I don't use those devices because, in following the scientific studies, they don't seem to hold up well in reducing the biting," Walker said.

Instead, our expert recommends the tried-and-true: For adults, deet-based sprays, and for kids, lotions and wipes.

"These are both in low concentration recommended by pediatricians," Walker said, referring to wipes from Cutter and Off! Skintastic cream.

The right clothes can help you avoid bites too.

"He's got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 on his suit, his dark suit," Walker said, pointing to a reporter's mosquito-infested attire.

If you've got a wooded lot, solutions more extreme than just bright clothing could be necessary.

"There are some commercial sprays ... formulated with water that will create a barrier," Walker said.

But whatever method you use, it's time to face facts: You can't avoid every single bite.

"It's going to be a long mosquito summer," Walker said.

One more interesting tidbit from Walker: The sensation of mosquito bites can be psychological.

So, if you head outside after reading this and think you're getting bitten worse than ever before, remember: Some of those bites could be in your mind.


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