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Myths and mosquitoes | The print

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When it comes time to roam the woods in spring, everyone has their own strategies for countering public enemy number one: the stinging bug. There is consensus on several concepts. There are, however, some myths that creep in here and there. Experts on mosquitoes, black flies, biting midges and horseflies fix it.

Posted at 11:30 yesterday

Maria Tison

Maria Tison
The print

Only females bite

This is true for all groups of stinging insects.

“It is the female who bites to get the blood to have the proteins necessary for the formation of the eggs that she will lay after mating,” says André-Philippe Drapeau Picard, head of entomological information at the Montreal Insectarium.

There are fewer stinging insects in Estrie than in the Laurentians


PHOTO DOMINICK GRAVEL, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

A farmer’s land near Mount Orford


PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

Agriculture is very present in the eastern municipalities.

It’s true.

“There are more insects in regions where there are a lot of wetlands,” explains Mr Drapeau Picard. To the south of the San Lorenzo the environments have been largely reclaimed for agriculture. ”

Some people attract mosquitoes more than others

“It is not a myth, we are not the same in front of mosquitoes”, says the specialist.

The metabolism, which differs from person to person, as well as the microbiome on the surface of the skin would be in question. “An American researcher has identified 150 compounds in the sweat of athletes that attract mosquitoes,” notes Jacques Boisvert, a retired professor at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières who has spent much of his career studying biting insects. .

Light-colored clothing is less attractive to biting insects

It’s true.

Mr. Drapeau Picard remembers that flies and mosquitoes detect heat. “In the sun, a darker garment will absorb more energy than the sun. It gets hotter. ”

Mosquito nets work well

Yes, but not just any.

Jacques Boisvert reminds us that black flies are experts in the art of finding the slightest passage to enter. It is therefore necessary to favor nets that cover the upper part of the torso. “The problem with the filet is that if you’re planning on having lunch… well, it sucks. ”

The worst time is at sunset


PHOTO BERNARD BRAULT, PRESS ARCHIVE

Mosquitoes are not active until after sunset.

You can be bitten at any time.

“We have more than 60 species of mosquitoes in Quebec,” Boisvert says. Some are active in the evening, others in the morning and evening. Black flies are active from morning to evening, while biting midges will come out after sunset. ”

DEET, icaridin and p-menthane-3,8-diol products can be harmful to health

These products have been researched and found to be safe and effective.

“But it’s important to follow the instructions on the container,” recalls Drapeau Picard. DEET, we don’t get it in our eyes. We won’t even put it four times a day on the skin. ”

Lemongrass is as effective as DEET and icaridin products

Not exactly.

According to Jacques Boisvert, the big difference is in the protection time. We’re talking 8 to 10 hours for DEET and icaridin, then 30 to 90 minutes for lemongrass. “I wear lemongrass when I have a barbecue. I go out, put on the steak, see it again, go in, ”he says.

Bracelets and candles successfully repel stinging insects

No.

Jacques Boisvert has amassed a large number of products that don’t work in one big box. Among them are bracelets, soaps, shampoos, candles and ultrasonic devices. On the other hand, permethrin impregnated clothing works!

Thermacell-type diffusers repel stinging insects

Yup.

These pyrethroid-based diffusers work, according to Jacques Boisvert. Some can hang on your belt, but they are quite expensive. For patio use, good old green coils work with the same types of insecticides and have similar effectiveness. However, “if it sells, there are people who will not be protected at all and others who will get it in the face”.

Electrocution devices are a good solution.

No, because they don’t just attract mosquitoes.

“We had five beekeepers in the region,” he says. A convenience store owner had put out his device: he was collecting a lot of bees. ”

Eating bananas attracts mosquitoes

The greatest myth of all.

For the purposes of science, Jacques Boisvert swallowed six bananas in a row. He was not stabbed to death.

The winning strategy is to be calm

Movement, like heat and carbon dioxide, attracts flies and mosquitoes, Jacques Boisvert recalls.

“You have to stay calm. You shouldn’t start hitting a mosquito like you want to kill an elephant. ”

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