Mosquitos are an incredibly commonplace creature in our environment. There are some 3,000 species of the flying biter in the world, and at least 176 of those can be found in the U.S. These pests are so much a part of our everyday lives, that the mere mention of them can cause many of us to feel our skin begin to tingle and itch.
When something is a part of the common human experience for so long, it tends to develop a cloud of myths about it. In some eastern mythologies, mosquitos are considered the reincarnation of all the world's big, fat jerks. And, of course, everyone instinctively understands the correlation between flying insects that suck your blood and the most infamous undead blood-sucker, Dracula.
Origin stories and literary imaginings are fairly harmless, but a lot of potentially harmful myths about mosquitos persist in modern minds. We did the research and consulted with an expert to find the truth about some of these myths.
Dr. Ray Thompson, Ph.D., is an entomologist who has been researching insects and educating the pest management industry on best practices for 45 years. His degrees in zoology and entomology, coupled with extensive peer-reviewed research and decades of consulting with urban planners and respected pest-control companies, make him an authority on dispelling erroneous ideas about the common mosquito.
Read on to learn the truth about some popular misconceptions that could be keeping you from enjoying your outdoor space to the fullest.
Myth 1: All Mosquitos Carry Disease.
"[People think] all mosquitoes are carrying a disease," says Dr. Thompson. "This is not true. Only a few carry diseases, and when they do, it's only because there are people or animals nearby carrying that disease. A lot of people don't recognize that; they just think that every mosquito is deadly by default."
Not only is it true that not every mosquito carries a disease, but it's also true that only certain species of mosquito are capable of transmitting specific diseases to humans or animals. But it's also true that all of them are a nuisance to humans.
Myth 2: You're Very Likely to Die from a Mosquito-Borne Disease in the U.S.
Zika. West Nile virus. Dengue fever. Every evening news report seems to carry a story about another outbreak of mosquito-borne disease wiping out regional populations. If you're paying attention, it's easy to think these diseases are rampant all around you. But are they?
"[People think] mosquitoes probably are the most dangerous animal in the world based on related deaths and the number of mosquitoes, but there's more to consider," says Dr. Thompson. And the World Health Organization backs him up on this.
The truth is that insect-borne disease did not even make it into the top 10 list of causes of death around the world. That means you are way more likely to die from heart, stroke or a car accident than from anything that pesky flier might be carrying.
Myth 3: If You Let a Mosquito Finish Biting You and Fly Away, You Won't Have Pain or Itch from the Bite.
This odd belief probably began from parents who were tired of dealing with their children's flailing and squirming around in church on hot summer Sundays. Or, perhaps from those who believe refraining from harming any living thing will bring them inner peace.
Wherever the idea came from, it's not true. Because of what happens when a mosquito lands on your skin, the quicker you can get rid of it, the better off you'll be. We're not saying you have to kill it; just don't think it will become your buddy if you invite it in for drinks.
Myth 4. Harsh Synthetic Chemicals are Way Better at Repelling and Managing Mosquitos than Botanicals are.
"Another misconception is that people don't realize the botanical materials work just as well as those that are synthesized," says Dr. Thompson. "And there's less chance of residual - still active residue - from those products. Botanicals leave virtually no residual in the environment."
Many MosquitoNix solutions used for managing mosquito populations are derived from chrysanthemum daisies. This botanical insecticide is know as pyrethrin. It’s long been used to fight & control mosquitos and other small flying insects. It’s botanical, and will not accumulate in the environment. Since the solution is botanical and natural occurring it is difficult for mosquitos to build up a tolerance unlike synthetic versions.
Botanicals are extracts and formulations taking directly from plants. In addition to botanical solutions, MosquitoNix offers 100% eco-friendly options like peppermint oil and clove oil used in MosquitoNix® Green services.
Plant-derived compounds are very effective at controlling pests, as Dr. Thompson says, especially when they are combined with other science-based approaches to managing natural spaces. The fact that botanical insecticides leave little to no residue on the plants and objects around them means you can have peace of mind knowing that your family is protected.
Myth 5: Chemical Companies and Insect Repellent Services Want to Completely Eliminate All Species of Mosquitos.
If you're concerned about our planet's health, you understand the importance of biodiversity. Every species relies on other species to survive and thrive. But it's easy for us to forget this when we are bombarded by flying pests that impede our enjoyment of the outdoors.
The comforting truth is that pest management companies understand this - the idea is right there in the word 'management.' At MosquitoNix, we know that misting or fogging your property is only one piece of the puzzle that will reclaim your outdoor event space or backyard. In fact, it takes an entire community committed to clearing up standing water hazards, properly disposing of trash and fostering smart ecological practices to minimize the risk and nuisance factors of mosquito populations.
"Mosquito management always starts community-wide. It then becomes city-wide," says Dr. Thompson. "I don't know that we'll ever get them under control, but we can manage them."
With the right professional advice and the smart use of all-natural and botanical options, we can learn to co-exist with our flying, biting neighbors and reclaim out outdoor spaces at the same time.