Myths and Mosquitoes | The press

When spring gets down to business, everyone has their own strategies for counteracting public enemy number one: the stinging insect. There is consensus on several concepts. However, there are a few myths that creep in here and there. Experts on mosquitoes, black flies, mosquitoes and horseflies take care of it.

Posted yesterday at 11:30am

Maria Tison

Maria Tison
The press

Only females bite

This applies to all groups of stinging insects.

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

In Estrie there are fewer biting insects than in the Laurentians


A farmer’s land near Mount Orford


Agriculture is very present in the Eastern Townships.

It’s true.

“In regions with a lot of wetlands, there are more insects,” explains Mr. Drapeau Picard. South of the St. Lawrence River, the surroundings have been largely drained for agriculture. »

Some people are more attracted to mosquitoes than others

“It’s not a myth, we’re not equal to mosquitoes,” says the specialist.

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

Light-colored clothing is less attractive to stinging insects

It’s true.

Mr. Drapeau Picard recalls that flies and mosquitoes recognize heat. “In the sun, a darker garment absorbs more solar energy. It’s getting hotter. »

Mosquito nets work well

Yes, but not just any.

Jacques Boisvert reminds us that blackflies are experts at finding the smallest gap to get in. It is therefore necessary to give preference to nets that cover the upper body. “The problem with the filet is that if you want to have lunch…well, it sucks. »

The worst time is at sunset


Mosquitoes are only active after sunset.

You can be bitten at any time.

“We have more than 60 mosquito species in Quebec,” says Mr. Boisvert. Some are active in the evening, others in the morning and evening. Black flies are active from dawn to dusk, while midges emerge after sunset. »

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

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

“But it’s important to follow the instructions on the container,” recalls Mr. Drapeau Picard. DEET, we don’t put that in our eyes. We’re also not going to apply it to the skin four times a day. »

Lemongrass is just 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 put lemongrass on me when I grill. I go out, I put the steak down, I see it again, I come in,” he says.

Bracelets and candles successfully repel biting insects


Jacques Boisvert has accumulated a large number of products that do not work in a large box. These include bracelets, soaps, shampoos, candles and ultrasonic devices. Clothing impregnated with permethrin, on the other hand, works!

Thermacell-type diffusers repel biting insects


According to Jacques Boisvert, these pyrethroid-based diffusers work. Some can hang on the belt, but are quite expensive. For patio use, good old green spirals work with the same types of insecticides and have similar effectiveness. “However, when it sells, there are people who don’t get any protection at all and others who get it in the face.”

Electric shock devices are a good solution.

No, because they don’t just attract mosquitoes.

“We had five beekeepers in the region,” he says. The owner of a supermarket had set up his device outside: he collected a lot of bees. »

Eating bananas attracts mosquitoes

The biggest myth of all.

For scientific purposes, Jacques Boisvert swallowed six bananas in a row. He wasn’t stabbed to death.

The winning strategy is to remain calm

Exercise, 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’re going to kill an elephant. »

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