Mosquitoes are one of the most annoying pests you’ll ever have to deal with. No matter how many of them you squish, swat or smoosh, there’s always hundreds more to take their place. With their buzzing and biting, it’s enough to drive even the most relaxed person buggy.

Not only can mosquitoes be really annoying, they can spread some pretty serious diseases. One of the most talked about illnesses spread by mosquitoes is West Nile Virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, almost 40,000 people have been diagnosed with West Nile Virus since 1999 resulting in 17,000 serious illnesses and 1,600 deaths. That does not include the numbers that go unreported to the CDC. Another common disease spread by mosquitoes is encephalitis. There are several different strands of this illness. Encephalitis can feel like the flu but causes inflammation of the brain. Other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes include malaria and yellow fever, as well as heartworm in pets.

Mosquitoes are always on the prowl for nutrients to sustain their eggs, and we as humans are the main course. While mosquitoes feed on many other things other than just humans, females need human blood to be able to produce and develop their eggs. So if you’re getting bitten by a mosquito, you know it’s a femal! They can sniff out our breath from up to 100 feet away. They are also drawn to body heat, certain smells, such as perfume and dark colors.

Thankfully, there are some ways to protect yourself from being bitten. First, apply insect repellent to any exposed skin. The most effective repellents contain DEET, picaridin or plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus. You should also keep as much of your skin covered as possible. Avoid wearing perfumes, lotions or dark colors if you know you will be spending time outside.

When a mosquito bites, they stick their proboscis into your skin. The proboscis is a very sharp and thin mouthpart. It acts kind of like a needle when you go to the lab for a blood draw. The mosquito has a chemical in its saliva so your blood won’t clot. She will continue to suck out your blood until her abdomen is full or until she is swatted or squashed. It takes about 5 microliters to fill a mosquito. The saliva that stays in the wound is what causes the red, itchy bumps. Eventually your body will break down the saliva left behind, but until then, the bite will continue to itch.

There are some things you can do around your property to try to minimize the number of mosquitoes bugging you.

  • Eliminate any standing water you possibly can. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the last thing you want to do is make your property more appealing. Most mosquitoes stay fairly close to their breeding ground, so even more reason to try to avoid them on your property. Empty any buckets, flower pots, or tires that may collect water. Don’t forget your storm drains.
  • If you need to water your grass or your garden, try to do it in the morning. Mosquitoes are out in full force in the evening and overnight hours, and again, moisture provides great breeding ground. By watering in the morning, your lawn and garden get the water they need, but are dry at night so the mosquitoes aren’t attracted to it.
  • Store any trash or recyclables in covered bins as far from your home and usable yard area as possible. You should also try to make sure, if you are picnicking or grilling out that you dispose of any food or drinks asap.

If you have tried all of these things, and it just isn’t enough, you can contact a pest control professional for help in getting the mosquitoes on your property under control. They know where to look, the problem areas to eliminate, and can offer mosquito treatments as well. While you may never be free of these flying insects, you shouldn’t have to be overrun by them either.