A recent study out of Baltimore reveals striking variations of mosquito activity within city neighborhoods. These variations, primarily driven by socioeconomic factors, impacted the frequency that mosquitoes bit humans and revealed the primary source of their blood meals.
The study found that mosquitoes primarily bit humans, rats, and cats but tended to avoid dogs and deer. In lower-income neighborhoods, rats tended to be the primary source of blood meals for female mosquitoes; in higher-income neighborhoods, humans were the primary source of blood meals.
However, lower-income neighborhoods had more overall mosquitoes due to an abundance of breeding areas, such as abandoned properties and overgrown lots. In contrast, higher-income neighborhoods had the fewest number of mosquitoes. The study concluded that residents of middle-income neighborhoods have the highest risk of being bitten because they display characteristics of poor neighborhoods (like overgrown lots) as well as richer neighborhoods (greater access to parks and green spaces such as gardens and lawns).
These findings will undoubtedly inform the strategies that are used to control the spread of mosquitoes and the diseases that they carry.
Regardless of where you live, follow these simple safety tips to protect yourself and your community:
- Remove all standing water on your property; that is where mosquitoes breed.
- Ensure rain barrels are properly sealed to prevent mosquitoes from entering.
- Ensure all screens around your home are in good repair to keep mosquitos out.
- Wear loose long sleeve shirts and long pants to prevent mosquitoes from biting.
- Wear insect repellant containing DEET, Picaridin, IR 3535, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
- Stay indoors during the hours of dusk and dawn, when many mosquitoes are most active.