Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

Originally published August 28, 2013

A typical outdoor summer evening at my house (in Myrtle Point) usually ends with a mild infestation of mosquitoes. When we tire of slapping, swatting and verbally assaulting the little monsters, we go inside after again promising to get a new bug zapper for the deck. Most of the time it is a minor inconvenience, just something to be endured and doesn’t really mess up our lives.

Not so for our downriver neighbors in Bandon. This summer’s invasion by mosquitoes is no longer funny. As Bandon’s Postmaster, mail carriers are reporting more bug spots on the insides of their windshields than the outside. (It’s difficult to deliver mail with your window rolled up!) Most folks are blaming the reconstruction of the Bandon Marsh a few miles upriver for creating the perfect habitat, but I’ll leave that debate for the experts.

I have done some research on (a) mosquito bite prevention and (b) mosquito bite treatment. As you can guess, there are a thousand home remedies, some effective, some not so much. There are all kinds of topical solutions available at most stores. Mosquitoes are attracted to the sources of carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Those topical solutions mask the smell of humans using the chemical DEET.

You may have noticed that certain people seem to attract more mosquitoes than others. Each of us has a different smell. There are about 400 different aromatic compounds that make up the human scent--about 30 of them appear to have a masking effect. Thus making you un-attractive to mosquitoes. The opposite is also true, some of us have an aromatic fingerprint that acts as a magnet. About 10% of the population are mosquito magnets.

One popular remedy over the years has been garlic. You can eat it, spray it or rub it on. The odor, either on your breath or emitting through your skin is a type of sulfur compound and is known to repel mosquitoes. (You may find, however, that mosquitoes aren’t the only things staying away!)

Another way to be less attractive to mosquitoes is to refrain from exercise. (I always knew there was a valid reason to be sedentary.) Exertion causes your body to give off more lactic acid and more carbon dioxide which causes mosquitoes to come running (well, flying).

Some common remedies for treatment of bites include, dabbing a small amount of vinegar to the bite, rub some aloe gel on it, a dry bar of soap, baking soda and water, toothpaste, raw honey and a lemon or lime. One place even recommended using a drop of your own saliva, claiming that the healing properties in your spit would speed the healing process.

One item about which I’ve always been curious is the battery operated, ultrasonic mosquito repelling device. I’ve seen this gadget offered in several outdoors catalogs and have been tempted. According to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, there are no scientific data to support their claims. So save your money. Likewise, there are no scientific data to support the effectiveness of Vitamin B1, although many claim they are never bothered by mosquitoes because of their faithfulness to include B1 in their daily routine.

As always send your questions, comments and mosquito remedies to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com.

Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.

additional columns by Dave Robinson