Mosquitos are attracted by several things, including heat, light, perspiration, body odour, lactic acid and carbon dioxide. The female mosquito pierces the skin with her proboscis; this is the very sharp and thin tube with which the mosquito sucks blood into herself. At the same time she injects saliva into the wound, this contains anticoagulants that stop the blood from clotting, she will then suck blood into her abdomen (about 5 microlitres per serving for an Aedes Aegypti mosquito).
If disturbed during this feeding session the mosquito will usually fly away, otherwise she will remain until her abdomen is full. After being bitten some saliva remains in the wound, the proteins from the saliva evoke an immune response from the body; the swollen area around the bite is called a wheal and it is this that itches. Eventually the swelling will disappear, but the itch remains until the immune cells break down the saliva proteins. To treat mosquito bites you should wash the area with a mild soap, try to avoid scratching the area, some medicines such as calamine lotion or cortisone creams help to relive the itching. Typically you should not need to seek medical treatment, unless you feel dizzy or nauseated, which may indicate a severe allergic reaction to the bite.
You can do a few things to reduce mosquito bites while enjoying the summer; if temperatures permit, wear clothing that covers most of the body and use a repellent that contains NN-Diethyl-Meta-Toluamide (DEET) at a concentration of 75%-100% or 15% for children.
Beyond mosquito repellents and protective clothing, you can try to control the mosquito population around your property. Mosquitos need water to lay their eggs and will use almost any source of standing water. By eliminating as many unnecessary sources of standing water as possible, you will greatly reduce the number of mosquito visitors you have. Empty watering cans, cover rain barrels and if you have a fish pond stock it with some fish that will eat the mosquito larvae.
Citronella oil , which is the product of several types of plants, can be made into candles or burned directly, is an effective mosquito repellent in high concentrations.
It has been known for mosquitos to ruin holidays for some people and if you are one of those who have a severe reaction to insect bites and stings, now would be the time to stock up on creams and repellents.