Mosquitoes can be found in every province and territory of Canada. We were shocked by the number of them when we first moved to Canada. Everyone should be familiar with the best ways to protect themselves from mosquitoes in Canada.
The best way to protect yourself is with a repellant. Canada Health recommends the following repellants. DEET, Icaridin, Permethrin, Soyabean oil, Metofluthrin, Oil of Lemon, Eucalyptus and Mixtures of essential oils.
How To Avoid Being Bitten By Mosquitoes In Canada
Your chances of being infected with a mosquito-borne disease by mosquitoes in Canada are low. And
your chances of becoming seriously ill are even lower. However, your only real protection is to avoid being bitten in the first place.
Cover up as far as possible to avoid exposed skin. Mosquitoes can bite through clothing, so wear tightly woven fabrics. Wear light-coloured clothing; mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours.
Wear socks and shoes; mosquitoes have a preference for feet over other body parts. This could be because we have more sweat glands in our feet.
Wear mosquito repellant. There are a vast number of repellants on the market, which have varying degrees of effectiveness. DEET is the “gold standard” when repelling mosquitoes, and my personal experience is that it works well.
Canada Health recommends using one of the following repellents:
- Permethrin (used to treat clothing)
- Soyabean oil
- Metofluthrin (used in clip-on devices)
- Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
- Mixtures of essential oils
Note that with the exceptions of soyabean oil and metofluthrin, all of the above have age restrictions for children.
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How To Proof Your Home From Mosquitoes In Canada
As mosquitoes breed in still, shallow water, the most obvious defence is to remove stagnant water from your property. Other tactics to consider are:
- Install screens on windows, doors, chimneys, and vents
- Use larvicide (where safe) in standing water that can’t be removed
- Change water in bird baths often
- Keep lawns cut back (long grass traps water and provides a good breeding ground)
- Cut back shrubs and bushes, especially in shaded areas
- Fill your yard with plants that are natural repellants (such as citronella, lemon balm, catnip, and lavender)
- Clear out eaves troughs regularly
If you like to sit outside, then consider using repellents such as citronella candles/spray around your sitting areas. I also read that sitting next to a fan can protect you, as mosquitoes prefer still conditions.
Where Are Mosquitoes Found In Canada?
It is almost impossible to avoid mosquitoes in Canada. Every province has them, but they do require certain environmental conditions to survive. They lay their eggs in shallow still water, and so areas of forest, wetlands, ponds, and floodlands are all popular breeding grounds.
You are more likely to come across them in rural areas, but living in a city is no guarantee of a mosquito-free life. Some cities (such as Winnipeg) have been known to “fog” areas of the city with insecticide during bad years.
British Columbia is often quoted as the best province for avoiding mosquitoes in Canada. The West Coast generally doesn’t have an issue with them, probably due to mosquitos’ dislike of windy conditions. The Okanagan region in southern-central BC is also relatively mosquito-free due to the hot dry summers.
Manitoba has a reputation for having the most mosquitoes in Canada. This is mainly due to its flat prairie lands and clay subsoil, which prevent water from draining away.
On a positive note, mosquitoes aren’t present year-round, with May to September being the main mosquito season. Numbers are also very dependent on climate conditions, with numbers varying dramatically year on year.
Does Canada Have Mosquito-Borne Diseases?
Worldwide, mosquitoes kill more humans than any other form of wildlife. According to the World Health Organisation, mosquito bites kill over a million people every year, mainly from malaria.
While you won’t contract malaria from mosquitoes in Canada, there are a number of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. West Nile Virus is of most concern and has been present in Canada since 2001.
What do you need to know about West Nile Virus in Canada?
- 2021 saw 30-40 recorded cases
- 2007 was the worst year on record, with over 2400 cases
- Found in southern areas of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec
- 70-80% of people with the virus don’t have symptoms
- Fewer than 1% will have serious symptoms
- The disease can be fatal
- Symptoms can be treated, but there is no specific cure or vaccination
So what symptoms should you look out for? Mild symptoms can be difficult to distinguish from other common illnesses and include fever, headache, body aches, and swollen lymph glands.
More serious symptoms of West Nile Virus could include:
- Severe headache
- High fever
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Drowsiness & confusion
- Loss of consciousness
- Lack of coordination
- Muscle weakness
You should seek medical assistance if you think you may have West Nile Virus.
Why Are Mosquitoes Attracted To Certain People?
It’s well known that mosquitoes are attracted to some people more than others (they love my husband so much that my best protection is to stand next to him!).
So why is this?
Natural body odour is a major factor, and mosquitoes prefer the smell of some people to others. Unfortunately, there’s not much you do about this one, as it comes down to genetics.
Carbon dioxide is also a major attractant. As we breathe out, its presence alerts mosquitoes to a potential host. As a result, people with a higher metabolic rate will be more attracted to mosquitoes. This includes anyone who is overweight or pregnant and anyone who is exercising.
A small study in 2002 found that drinking beer made people more attractive to mosquitoes. There hasn’t been much research into this theory, but one suggestion is that drinking alcohol increases metabolism and hence carbon monoxide production.
It is also thought that mosquitoes are attracted to people wearing perfume. Very little is known about this, but it may simply be that perfume alerts mosquitoes to your presence.
Another factor that you can’t do much about is the blood group. Several studies have shown that mosquitoes prefer people with blood group O, although very little research has been done into the reasons.
Interesting Facts About Mosquitoes In Canada
- Only female mosquitoes bite.
- The females need blood to reproduce.
- They inject you with anti-coagulant saliva.
- It’s this saliva that causes irritation.
- Mosquitoes can drink more than three times their body weight in blood.
- Their flying speed is only 1 to 1.5 mph
- They only live for two months.