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Bugged by mosquitoes? Blame it on the rain, beer and babies

Natural odours from your skin, perfumes, having Type O blood, being pregnant and drinking alcohol can all make you smell more attractive for all the hungry new mosquitoes, says one expert.

Residents in Waterloo region are reporting an increase in mosquito sightings this summer

Close up shot of a mosquito on a person's hand.

Mosquitoes in Waterloo region are creating a buzz for all the wrong reasons.

Judging by a trail of red, itchy evidence — some people may assume there are more of them this year.

But one expert said it could be a trick of the weather.

Brad Fedy, an ecologist and associate professor at the University of Waterloo's school of environment, resources and sustainability, said getting a lot of rain after a spell of dry weather can suddenly create favourable conditions for mosquitoes who could not breed when it was very dry outside.

"From our perspective, it'll result in a more contracted time period over which animals are emerging," he said.

"It'll feel like to us that there's all of a sudden a lot more. Over that same amount of time we might have ended up with the same number. It's just they're coming out, they're merging in a more contracted period."

On top of that, Fedy said natural odours from your skin, perfumes, having Type O blood, being pregnant and drinking alcohol can all make you smell more attractive for all the hungry new mosquitoes.

closup of mosquito

It could all be in your head

"It's important to consider human psychology and perceptions. Our memories are fallible," Fedy said.

"We always experience current hardships more acutely than past hardships. And so when you're walking your dog in the morning, getting bitten … by mosquitoes, you're going to feel that more and comment on it."

He said it could also be that we're all just bonding over our shared dislike for mosquitoes.

"We're social creatures. We like to get along with each other. And so when my friend tells me that the mosquitoes on his property are worse than he can ever remember them, I'm not going to disagree with him. I say: 'Yeah, of course they are, sure.'"

Fedy said it is hard to pinpoint exactly how many more mosquitoes we're seeing this year because of limited research in the area.

"When we actually have to do research monitoring mosquito populations, it may seem like an easy thing because they're all around you," he said.

"But it takes hours to not only design the study, but then to execute it. And if you want to do adult monitoring then you've got to put adult traps in. These traps need to main be maintained and then which species are you interested in? Because there's many, many species of mosquitoes. So then you're going to identify all of those species. And all of this takes time. All of this takes money."

He said scientists would also have to consider the impact of spatial and temporal variation across the country.

Preventing itchy bites

Region of Waterloo Public Health (ROWPH) said a person is more like to get bit if they're near standing bodies of water.

"Standing water is where mosquitos tend to lay their eggs, called larvae," public health wrote in an emailed statement to CBC News.

"Public Health hires trained technicians to monitor areas such as catch basins, roadside ditches and storm drains. The technicians use larvicide to treat these pools of standing water. The larvicide prevents larvae from developing into adult mosquitoes. This helps reduce mosquito populations that can carry West Nile Virus."

ROWPH said it conducts yearly trappings from mid-June to the end of August to identify any mosquitoes that may be carrying the West Nile Virus in Waterloo region.

"Residents can help to reduce mosquito populations by removing standing water on their property," the statement said. "Check places like flowerpots, bird baths, wheelbarrows, eaves troughs and rain barrels."

Public health said you can reduce your risk of getting bit by wearing light-coloured clothing, long sleeves, pants, a hat, socks and closed-toe shoes.

They also recommend using insect repellent spray containing DEET or Icaridin.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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