Martha Garcia

Health columnist Martha Garcia.

I watched my son’s baseball game swinging my hands more than he swung the bat.

Gnats and mosquitoes swarmed around and feasted on me like I was a dinner entree.

The ongoing rainfall and the flood waters in the Quad-Cities have caused an increase in pesky flying bloodthirsty insects like gnats and mosquitoes. Even worse, it doesn’t matter how much I marinate myself in insect repellent, vanilla, Bug Soother made of lemongrass, my blood seems to attract these flying cannibals. The welts on my face and body multiply as the summer continues.

Gnats are tiny flies in the same category that include midges, crane flies and mosquitoes.

Gnats and mosquitoes usually migrate around vegetation and water areas like ponds, rivers, wet ground and where algae usually grow.

Bites from both gnats and mosquitoes are annoying and usually result in a hypersensitive reaction that results in swelling, itching, and welts on the body.

I am probably one of the few with sweet blood that attracts these pesky critters, but there are ways to keep them away. The website fliesonly.com offers these suggestions.

Sit near an ultraviolet light zapper and hear them sizzle as the gnats and mosquitoes are drawn to the light.

Gnats do not like vanilla. Apply vanilla repellent or make your own with pure vanilla. Mix 10 mL vanilla to 10 mL of water.

Citronella oil is also hated by gnats and mosquitoes. You can light a candle or an incense stick. You can also make a mixture and put in a spray bottle to spray around you. Mix two cups of water with two spoons of citronella oil and three to six drops of dish soap.

You can also use sprays with the chemical diethyltoluamide, or DEET. They are effective but may have a lingering smell longer than you would like. Some people are sensitive to the chemical and may go with a natural repellent.

DEET free sprays like Bug Soother have the natural mixture that the flying bugs do not like such as lemongrass oil, vanilla, and citronella all in one easy bottle.

I use all of them, and most recently, I used a yard fogger to spray the perimeter of my sitting area at baseball games. They sell the foggers in both DEET and with natural ingredients.

But if you do get bit, we know those itchy welts aren’t fun.

Mayoclinic.org suggests treating mild insect bites by treating the area with mild soap and water. Apply cool compresses or ice to reduce swelling and pain. Use hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to calm the itching.

You may want to also take an antihistamine to reduce redness and itching.

The bites may be annoying, but the good news is that they only stick around for a few days.

Enjoy your summer by winning the war against gnats and mosquitoes. Pack your sprays, light a citronella candle and have your anti-itch lotions ready to soothe the bite.


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