Why does a mosquito bite itch? When can the wound easily become infected? And which dangerous diseases can mosquitoes transmit? We’ll tell you. There are also tips on how to protect yourself from these pests.

by Editor Business and Advice

Patients with mosquito bites often end up in the emergency room. Every bite can transmit bacteria. They are often the cause of severe swelling and inflammation. In addition to the risk of infection from bites from local mosquitoes, there is also an increasing number of illnesses caused by exotic mosquitoes such as the Asian tiger mosquito or the Asian bush mosquito. They are now widespread in southern Europe and the Mediterranean region and have also arrived in Germany.

Transmission of diseases possible

Exotic mosquitoes can transmit pathogens such as viruses, bacteria or parasites and thus cause tropical diseases such as dengue fever, West Nile fever, yellow fever, Zika fever or even malaria. However, it is important to find out more before travelling to Asia or Africa. There are now effective vaccinations against many of these diseases.

Mosquitoes on the riseIn recent years, tropical diseases have not only been seen in people who have previously been in the tropics. This could be due to mosquitoes that have been introduced through global trade and are now biting here.

Dangerous itching

Local mosquitoes do not normally transmit pathogens. The danger is more likely to come from infection by germs and bacteria that are found on the surface of our skin. They can enter the body through a mosquito bite. If you then scratch the bite, the bite site becomes larger and a wound develops that can become infected. That is why it is important to combat the itching. The mosquito’s saliva contains a protein that causes an allergic reaction.

Ribwort plantain relieves itching.
Image rights: imago/blickwinkel

The cause of swelling and itching is the hormone histamine, which our body produces to defend itself after the sting. Scratching spreads the histamine even further in the tissue, making it itchy even more. A sting healer or heat stick can help: a short heat shock of around 50 degrees destroys the substances that cause itching. Ribwort plantain is a natural remedy. If the leaf is crushed, a juice is formed. It reduces swelling and relieves itching. However, if fever occurs and the sting site swells up, you should go to the doctor immediately.

Mosquitoes: nasty little stingers

The common mosquito – the name says it all. We hear its buzzing most often in our apartments and houses, where it can be found all year round. The bite is small, the itch is usually big. The females only bite because they need substances from our blood to lay their eggs. They feed on plant juices. Image rights: imago/blickwinkel

The black fly – biologists distinguish 50 different species in Germany. Their females are bloodsuckers. But they love cattle. Image rights: imago images / blickwinkel

Large house mosquito, also known as the ringed gnat. Over one centimeter long and active all year round. Often leaves behind inflammation when it bites. Image rights: imago/blickwinkel

The Asian bush mosquito has only been found here for 20 years. It is also considered to be a carrier of various diseases, such as the West Nile virus. Image rights: imago/blickwinkel

The fungus gnat is completely harmless to humans, but extremely annoying because the larvae prefer to feed on plant roots. Image rights: imago/blickwinkel

The Asian tiger mosquito is also sometimes called a tiger mosquito. It is active during the day, bites a lot and transmits various viruses in the tropics. It is (still) too cold for that here. Image rights: imago images/Blickwinkel

Winter mosquitoes are not sensitive to cold and can survive well in winter and at high altitudes. They do not bite and are completely harmless to humans. Image rights: imago/blickwinkel

This protects against mosquito bites

Wear long clothes!
Mosquitoes look for places with bare skin or thin clothing to bite. Long, tightly woven clothing can therefore protect against bites.

Anti-insect sprays
These contain fragrances that keep mosquitoes away.

Ventilate rooms well!
Mosquitoes react to the carbon dioxide in the air we breathe. An open window can help, because well-ventilated rooms with more oxygen and less carbon dioxide are less likely to attract mosquitoes.

Shower before going to bed!
In addition to the air we breathe, mosquitoes are magically attracted to attractants in our body odor. They can smell us from up to 50 meters away. To keep mosquitoes away at night, it can help to shower before going to bed and rinse off the smell.

A fan in the bedroom can also drive away mosquitoes. It swirls the air around, making it harder for the mosquito to orient itself and track down its victims.

Incense, plants, music
It is also known that the animals do not like the smell of incense sticks or that they run away from tomato and basil plants. But Asian researchers have now discovered that mosquitoes do not like certain musical sounds at all and are therefore less aggressive and reproduce less. They have even found out that a certain type of music has a deterrent effect on the animals: the most annoying for the mosquitoes is apparently the electronic dubstep music of the American musician Skrillex.

Mosquito profileIt is tiny, but extremely bloodthirsty: the mosquito. There are 3,500 species of mosquito worldwide, and around 50 of them are native to Germany.

The most common representative in Germany is the common mosquito. It grows to a size of up to 15 millimeters and lives for several weeks to months.

The female mosquitoes bite and suck blood after mating. Male mosquitoes feed on flower nectar. The mating season is from March to October.

Mosquitoes are found everywhere near bodies of water, in wetlands or swamps.

The Mosquito Atlas – everyone can become a researcher

Dr. Doreen Werner from the Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) in Müncheberg, Brandenburg, is trying to answer the question of which species of mosquitoes there are in Germany and how they spread. Anyone can send in mosquitoes, the species of which will then be identified and the location of the mosquitoes entered into a “mosquito atlas.”

However, hitting them is prohibited! If you discover a mosquito, you should catch it in a container and then put it in the freezer. The frozen mosquitoes can then be sent to the ZALF by post, for example in a matchbox.

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This topic in the program:MDR SACHSEN-ANHALT | 19 April 2024 | 11:00 a.m.