Most people have been bitten by a mosquito in their lifetime, some of us more than others. Those annoying little critters leave people with numerous itchy bites, but in the process can also infect the individual with diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya and in some cases, the Zika virus.
Mosquitos in Spain can be a real issue, however, it is the Tiger mosquito that people dread the most.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the Tiger mosquito in Spain including:-
Let’s read on and find out more!
In the last few years, a new species of mosquito has made its way across the Mediterranean to Spanish shores; the Tiger mosquito (Aedes Albopictus).
Although originally a native of Southeast Asia, the Tiger has now established itself in other Mediterranean countries such as France, Italy, Greece and now here in Spain.
The Tiger mosquito is not only strikingly different in terms of appearance to the native Spanish mosquito, it is also much more aggressive!
How to Identify a Tiger Mosquito
Tiger mosquitos are named as such due to the predominant black and white stripes that run across their body and legs. The body of the Tiger is also generally larger than the native mosquito and can grow up to 10mm in length depending on the time of year and whether it has been recently feeding.
Tiger mosquitos have a flight range of around 200m and can usually be found close to a source of water.
Like all other species of mosquito, they are very much attracted to stagnant and standing water, which helps them to breed.
May to October is the time in which Tiger mosquitos are most active, so be especially prepared during the summer season.
It seems that some people are more susceptible to attracting both native and Tiger mosquitos than others, but there are a number of changes that you can make and advice that you can follow, to prevent or reduce the number of bites that you get. Below you will even find instructions on how to make a simple trap to catch them.
Where in Spain Can Tiger Mosquitos be Found?
Since around 2004, Tiger mosquitoes have been found in Spain and although a number of studies have shown that they predominantly inhabit coastal areas, they can and do still reproduce and thrive in the interior of the country.
It is thought that certain areas including Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearic Islands and Murcia see more tigers than others, however, it is fair to say that you will most likely come across them wherever you are in Spain.
Tiger Mosquito Bites
The Tiger mosquito’s bite is a lot more painful than that of the native Spanish mosquito and can cause severe swelling, scarring and in some cases infection that may require a visit to the doctor.
It is the female mosquito that bites and can be identified by its long elongated body. The blood that they suck from both animals and humans (their preferred prey) is then used in the production of eggs.
Unlike their female counterparts, male tiger mosquitos do not bite and instead prefer to feed on plant nectar.
How Long Do Tiger Mosquitos Live?
This can depend on the temperature, but as a guide, the male Tiger will live for around one week with the female surviving for around one month or longer.
How To Avoid Tiger Mosquitos
Below are some tips on how to make yourself less attractive to both Tiger mosquitos and the native Spanish mozzie.
1. Wear Light Coloured Clothing
A good trick is to opt for light coloured clothing. Mosquitos are actually attracted to dark coloured clothing, such as black and dark blue. This is because, during their most active time, dusk, dark coloured clothing actually provides a contrast in colours, meaning they are immediately attracted. By wearing lighter coloured clothing, neutral colours are recommended, mosquitos won't be stimulated. Bear in mind that bright colours could attract other insects such as wasps, so you may want to also avoid these.
2. Tiger Mosquito Repellents
Insect repellent is seen as the best way to stop mosquitos in their tracks including Tiger mosquitos. They are one of, if not the best solution. There are an array of products available to buy, but it's important to remember some contain a pesticide known as DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide). If you are using a product that contains DEET, make sure you read the instructions before applying it as there are concerns about the associated neurotoxicity effects.
The general view is that the more Deet the repellent contains the better you will be protected, however, this is not strictly true. Tests have shown that you ideally want to use a product that contains between 15-30% Deet. Any more than this and it could cause skin irritation or other unwanted side-effects.
Repellents that contain natural ingredients such as Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) and Picaridin are thought to be safer than deet, especially for young children. Picaridin is said to be more effective than deet at repelling mosquitos and ticks and has a lower absorption rate. Picaridin is also ideal for pregnant or breastfeeding women and is non-corrosive meaning that it will not damage clothing.
Insect repellents are extremely effective, but always remember to use them before you go outside and remember to reapply them throughout the day.
Always read the labels before applying ANY repellent.
More information about the three main active ingredients contained in insect repellents can be seen here https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/insect-repellent/buying-guide/index.htm
If you are in the shops or pharmacy here in Spain and want to ask about insect repellent in Spanish use the terms “repelente contra mosquitos” or “repelente para mosquitos”.
3. Avoid Dusk and Dawn
Most mosquitoes including Tigers are active at dusk and dawn. This is due to the temperature being cooler and there being less wind. Obviously, when they're active, you're more likely to get bitten. So it may be a good idea to take extra care when venturing out during these times. You could plan activities for when mosquitoes are less active to be on the safe side.
4. Choose Your Clothing Wisely
Mosquitos will bite any area that is exposed. One way to combat this is to wear clothes that leave fewer areas exposed as it will dramatically reduce the chances of you being bitten. Long sleeve shirts, for example, will stop you from getting bitten on the arm. Warm climates and overdressing don't really suit each other, but if you can protect yourself by wearing clothes and hence reducing the amount of exposed skin on show, you will inevitably be of less interest to mosquitos.
Tiger mosquitos generally fly low to the ground and bite ankles and legs. To avoid this, make sure you have plenty of repellent on these areas of your body.
5. Get an Insect Net
Bug nets are excellent protection against bites when you're sleeping and are purpose made to stop mosquitos from penetrating the material. With mosquitos being active more during dawn, you're more than likely going to be asleep. So a mosquito net is a good idea so you can sleep soundly, knowing you won't be waking up with itchy bites. If you're travelling abroad to somewhere where mosquitoes are active, you can always ring ahead to make sure there is a mosquito net around the bed for example.
6. Use a Fan
Fans are a great way to keep mosquitos at bay. One of the reasons that they are more active during dawn and dusk is because the wind speed has dropped. Contrary to popular belief, these pesky critters aren't strong fliers. By using electric fans and using them properly, you'll be able to blow the mosquitos away. They will have no chance of battling against the fans' power to get close to you, and after a few attempts, they will eventually give up on the lost cause. Make sure to position them correctly so that they are blowing away from you in order for this to be an effective preventative tool.
7. Remove and Avoid Standing Water
Standing water is a breeding ground for all mosquitos, a real hotbed environment. They actually thrive on it. By making sure there is no standing water close to your accommodation, for example, it will definitely make it less appealing for mosquitos to visit. It can be as simple as removing glasses and mugs that have water left in them. If you go to the beach for a day out, remember that you should clean everything fully, but don't leave any water behind in the buckets for example.
Other sources of old water can include dirty swimming pools, wells, cisterns, tanks and animal drinking bowls and troughs.
Have a quick check around where you are for anything that holds water, if there is any, get rid of it.
If you are unable to empty the water, make sure you cover it with mosquito netting where possible. If drinking water for a pet, make sure it is changed daily.
That way you'll help to prevent the spread of mosquitoes in your area.
8. Some Plants are Natural Repellents
There are a number of plants and herbs that you can grow in your garden or place into pots that can actually help to keep mosquitos away. Some of the most popular are Rosemary, Lemon Balm and Lavender. See our other article 7 Plants To Naturally Repel Mosquitos for further information.
9. Perfumes, Colognes and Body Odour
Mosquitoes are attracted to perfumes, colognes and other scented beauty products such as shampoos and skin creams you may use. Try to avoid using these and go for an unscented product where possible.
Mosquitoes are also thought to be attracted by body odours due to poor hygiene, so make sure you are not giving off the wrong kind of scent!
By adopting these tricks, hopefully, you'll keep the critters at bay and keep your skin free from itchy, red bites that keep you awake at night and scratching all day.
Tiger Mosquito Bite Treatment
Remember, if you do receive a bite, an antihistamine is a must-have to relieve you from the itchiness and reduce the swelling.
An ice pack or cold compress will also help to alleviate the symptoms including any swelling.
Hydrocortisone creams or calamine lotion will also help minimise any discomfort you may experience.
You may also want to check out our article - 10 Home Remedies For Mosquito Bites
How to Build a Tiger Mosquito Trap
The good news is that it is easy to build your very own mosquito trap. The information below has been provided by the Junta de Andalucia. You can see a copy of their guide here (in Spanish)
To build a mosquito trap you will need the following:
Simply cut the first third of the plastic bottle and use the bottom part for the mixture. Dissolve the brown sugar in boiling water and allow it to cool before adding the yeast (mega important! if it's not cool it will ferment too quickly). Also, don´t mix the yeast in, just allow it to float on top of the mixture (same reason - you don't want it to ferment too fast). Then put the top of the bottle on upside down as shown in the image. For best results make 3 to 4 units and place them around your room/garden.
The basic idea here is that Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and one of the by-products of fermentation is also carbon dioxide so this trap uses fermentation to attract mosquitoes. First, they get themselves stuck inside the bottle, can´t find the hole to get out and then fall into the sticky mixture and die.
There are a few other methods you can use to catch mosquitoes including this guide from Wikihow https://www.wikihow.com/Catch-a-Mosquito
How Can You Find a Mosquito in Your Room?
So you are just about to fall asleep when you hear that annoying buzzing in your ear. Frustrating to say the least! You jump up and go in search of the pesky mosquito, but can’t find it anywhere. Sound familiar?
After scouring the web, we found a couple of neat solutions on how you can find a mosquito if you have one in your room at night. Check out this post via LifeHacker which will no doubt come in very handy during mosquito season! https://lifehacker.com/how-to-find-and-kill-that-single-mosquito-buzzing-aroun-1819107884
If you have any tips of your own on avoiding Tiger mosquitoes or treating their bites, we would love to hear them. Please share the article with your friends via our social media buttons and comment via our Facebook page.
You can find more tips on how to prevent mosquito bites via our other articles at https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/health-tips/136-how-to-prevent-mosquito-bites.html and https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/expat-tips/484-7-tricks-to-avoid-mosquito-bites.html
Did you know that there are many plants and herbs that you can grow to help repel mosquitos? Read more here https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/expat-tips/503-7-plants-to-naturally-repel-mosquitos.html
If you do need a pharmacy, read all about Spanish pharmacies here including how to find your nearest one in Spain - https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/expat-tips/191-pharmacies-in-spain-la-farmacia.html
Another insect found in Spain that can cause serious health issues or even death is the pine processionary caterpillar.
Private Health Insurance for Expats
If you want the security of knowing that you and your loved ones are covered against any unforeseen health issues in Spain, please consider one of our excellent value, low-cost Sanitas health insurance policies. All of our policies are in English and are underwritten by Bupa.
You can view our range of policies here - https://www.healthplanspain.com/sanitas/sanitas-health-plans.html
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