Spain

How To Prevent Mosquito Bites

This is what happened to me last night while fast asleep, I woke up with nasty mosquito bites on both legs, and even one on my face! Eleven of them altogether, it´s usually Dave they like to munch on, but he only ended up with two…!

Before you view the damage, I´ve discovered “macro mode” creates hairy legs, even when they´re really not…

OUCH!!!

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These two bites were behind my knee…

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This one on top of the other knee…

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Miscellaneous…

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OUCH AGAIN!!!

So in reverse order of prevention and cure, this is the best cream to use after being bitten. It stops the itching and prevents inflammation. Which in turn means there´s no need to scratch, and the skin stays flat. As an added bonus it also helps the skin heal faster, without leaving a mark that can take anything up to three weeks to disappear…

The miracle cream…

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Um, don´t look at the sand on the tiles outside, oh ok then do, they´re going to get a good power washing session in the next few days. {Which in Spain means sometime in the next few months or so, yes we´ve learnt from the experts}

With it being so warm here we haven´t slept under a duvet for months, it´s neatly folded up in a cupboard somewhere. Up until now we’ve only ever seen just one mozzie in the house, and it got whacked. Further to that, even when we´re “laid down” targets wearing nothing but a birthday suit, neither of us have been bitten INSIDE yet. And we leave the doors open onto the balcony! I´ll write a bit more about how that works further down this post.

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a) So what did I do differently yesterday to deserve being eaten alive? I´ll set the scene: We´ve got a huge front terrace that´s lit up at night, there´s several different varieties of lighting, from the romantic kind, to the blogging kind with permutations in between. Plants surround the balustrades and the rest is OUR SPACE. However, one of these artificial light modes means it´s quite possible to do your gardening at night… A few days ago it poured down we had several spots of rain, it was so bad the drops didn´t even join up. In fact there was more sand, mostly stirred up by the 90mph wind 9 mile an hour wind. Most plants don´t care about that at all, but a big rubber plant acts like a bucket. Sand on it´s leafs = blocked out sun = poorly plant. I like my rubber plant that´s taller than me, so there I was at 1am in the morning wiping down all it´s leaves with a spray bottle and a duster…

We´ve gone out of our way to make this place a mozzie free zone, no water standing in plant bot bases, (it took us a while to get the irrigation right for every one of the darn things). No dead foliage, etc. Nothing to attract them. But a fine layer of sand at the base of a big fat leaf (where it joins the branches) must be a nice little niche to sit in. Hence, during the cleaning process, one of them must´ve sat on me before we went to bed,, and got a free ride upstairs. In hindsight I should´ve done that job a couple of weeks ago, before there was chance for the little critters to move on in.

Note: We carried out a search of the bedroom in the morning and found it within seconds, blimey it was HUGE. Had to be killed with the zap bat.

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b) How to prevent the buggers from biting: There´s several different options because they´re repelled by the smell of citrus fruits, (lemon being most effective) and mint is another:

  • Anti-bite cream, use on arms and legs. Dave´s using that at the moment and it´s very effective. Note that it only works for eight hours and has to be reapplied again.
  • Shower gel with lemon, you can´t smell it after use, but mozzies can.
  • Wrist bands come with different citrus flavours. Dave reckons they work great on arms, but he´d need ankle bands to save his legs. Unfortunately It´s not really the done thing for a bloke to dress up his ankles. Another disadvantage with them is that they only last a few days before turning useless. Great for short term holiday makers though, they do packs of ten.
  • Fresh lemon, rub a slice on ankles and wrists before going out.  
  • Sun tan lotion, some have bite repellent built in. I haven´t tried that because I don´t get bit often enough, on second thoughts last night made up for it…

For the house:

  • Plug in devices (directly into electric wall sockets) such as “Pest Reject” come in several types. They work by detecting a critter, and using a high pitched ultrasonic sound that repels them, thankfully humans can´t hear it. {We have those}
  • Other plug in devices claim to produce an electromagnetic field, but personally the thought of that makes me cringe because “microwaves” come to mind. No thanks.
  • I mentioned earlier we leave the bedroom patio doors open at night, so why aren´t we bombarded? Well, we have traditional pure silk curtains from top to floor. No critters can get in (that way) and when we discovered the intruder from last night, it was sat on the curtain trying to leave unscathed. So obviously they can´t get out either… Come to think of it, neither could anyone or anything suddenly appear uninvited, there´s wrought iron gates outside, and locked. Safe and double safe (from, well, no crime in the area) we don´t even bother with the shutters to block out the subtle glow either. Oh and forget the A/C we use the huge ceiling fan on the fastest setting instead – lovely. But I´m wandering off topic, so…    

For gardens:

There´s plenty of choice, mostly sprays that don´t have any effect on garden tiles, spray in a line between potted plants. Except you may have noticed that I haven´t used it. There´s some in the garage and that rubber plant is going to get surrounded by the stuff tomorrow. 

Swimming pools: Easy, a vast amount of fresh water, and they hate the smell of chlorine.

The sea itself: Again, a truly vast amount of clean moving water that contains salt.

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c) Where mozzies are usually found:

Surprisingly they don´t like sand, I mean vast quantities of sand on beaches. But they do like damp areas. What,, damp,, here? Well there´s:

  • Vast areas of trees, down near the roots they hide.
  • Irrigated crops such as fruit. Don´t worry about your next bottle of Spanish vino from the vines, they´re not interested in eating vegetation, they want blood!
  • Land that´s being built on.
  • Land that´s not being built on.
  • Manicured valleys residents have worked on.
  • Non manicured valleys.
  • Land full of wild flowers.
  • Garden centres!
  • Grass,, yes there is grass here, it´s the thick stuff like in Florida. There´s lovely soft pampered grass on golf courses, elsewhere it´s just course. 
  • Small Ruts, yes RUTS. Even a beautiful rural landscape without much vegetation has a few RUTS, and they don´t have to be big. If it occasionally rains in winter, even then the sun dries out surface water everywhere within an hour. But not when it´s three or four inches deep and stuck in a RUT. (Excuse naff pun). The water remains and eventually goes stagnant. Mozzie heaven.

When you live here, avoiding such areas is common knowledge. Just stand back and enjoy the view instead of mingling amidst it.

However there is a caveat, from experience walking past (not in) such places is necessary. Plus, if you like wandering round a town that´s surrounded by beautiful inland scenery, you´re still going to be exposed to a lesser extent. Even our local bar is opposite a HUGE valley full of trees that go on forever, and occasionally some of the critters find their way over. If a bite appears we always know where it´s come from and when.

[Mozzie season lasts from roughly May to September]

Basically, it´s all about what´s right for you. Some people never get bitten, some occasionally do (like me, well usually) and others are like mozzie magnets. But there are ways of preventing them from using you as a dart board, must be better than walking round in a dry wetsuit…

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