It’s not just you. There are, in fact, way more mosquitoes than there normally are this time of year. Thought we were far enough into autumn that it was safe to put away the bug spray? Think again.
In addition to there being more mosuitos in and around BA, you might have noticed that they are slightly bigger and more aggressive than what we were dealing with over the summer. Once again — you are right. The culprit to our itchy plague appears to be the Aedes albifasciatus, besides being able to survive and hatch in lower temperatures, it’s way more aggressive and lives longer. They live as far down as Tierra del Fuego. So the cooler days we had last week did little to deter these buggers. The species, known as “mosquito charquero” (pool mosquito), originally nests on the muddy side of trenches and pastures in the countryside and came to Buenos Aires because of the humidity, the floods and the heavy rains.
There are over 200 mosquito species in Argentina, of which around 30 live in Buenos Aires. The charqueros, even though they attack during daytime, do not usually infest homes often and are mostly found in parks. You can also find them on Twitter, where they even set up a national poll asking “Did we bite you in the last few weeks?”
Experts claim that if weather conditions remain the same, they’ll stay with us for at least three more weeks. In conversation with Télam, Nicolás Schweigmann, a doctor in Biological Sciences from the CONICET, explained sooner or later “they’re destined to die because they can’t breed within the urban area.” He said it’s important “local authorities fumigate parks and prevent puddles from staying over a week,” hence that’s where the eggs are.
Annoying? Yes, but worth panicking over? No. This particular strain of mosquitos are not dangerous. Their bites might be more substantial, yes, but they don’t pass on dengue, zika, chikungunya or yellow fever as their fellow Aedes aegypti. The white-legged mosquito, though, is still out there and will stay until the end of May.
Now that we know these flying guys will be around for a few weeks, what do we do?
- Usually the first advice to take is to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, but these can bite through clothing. That leaves us with:
- Repellent, of course, both on skin and clothing. And not only when you go out to the park. Better make it an everyday habit. Cream or spray bottles go from AR $40 to AR $100. Look at it as an investment.
- Experts add you should wear lighter colors instead of dark clothing.
- Turn on spirals or repellent tablets inside, at all times, but especially at dawn and sunset. Another AR$ 50-AR $70 investment.
- Put screens on windows.