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What do you know about mosquito bites?

When it comes to mosquitoes, there are a lot of myths about the pesky insects, including why they bite, how to defend against them and how serious a threat they are.

Maarten Wouters, Getty Images

One of the most common myths is that all mosquitoes bite humans. In fact, some only eat plant nectar,  reptiles or birds. Male mosquitoes don’t bite humans at all, only females do because they need the blood to help aid egg production.

Another common myth is that mosquitoes are attracted to certain food, colors or blood types.  Joe Conlon, technical adviser to the American Mosquito Control Association in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, said nothing you eat or wear has any effect on a mosquito’s choice.

And pregnant woman shouldn’t worry too much either about getting “eaten alive” by mosquitoes. A 2000 study that involved 36 pregnant women and 36 non-pregnant women in a small African country showed mosquitoes bit pregnant woman more than woman that weren’t pregnant. But Conlon said the mosquitoes were probably attracted to the extra heat and carbon dioxide pregnant woman give off, and not the pregnancy itself.

Conlon said there’s another myth that West Nile virus is losing its mosquito-borne threat. “Even if the population in New Jersey is not seeing West Nile cases this year, that shouldn’t mean for them to think that it’s gone.”

What works against mosquitoes?  Conlon said any repellant containing DEET. Citronella candles work, but only if you burn a lot of them at once. “If you are sitting around a picnic table with a single Citronella candle burning, do not expect much protection from mosquitoes,” Conlon said.

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