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I was out in my backyard a few evenings ago thinking about those cold snowy nights when we dreamed of sitting out under the July moon. Minutes later, I was back inside, cursing the mosquitoes. Few things will drive me indoors on a warm summer’s eve, like mosquitoes, or so I thought.
Mosquitoes are not the only flying insects that bite - flies bite too. We always had our share of flies on the farm… for obvious reasons. Every summer, mom fought a courageous battle against flyspeck – she would get out a pail with some soap and wash the front of the house when she knew we had company coming. If someone stopped in unexpectedly, Mom would apologize for the flies.
Grandma didn't love flies and spent a lot of the summer with a fly swatter in her hand. She did, however, have a certain appreciation for the common fly. Flies helped grandma hone her forecasting skills. She believed that if the flies were biting, there was rain on the way.
It seems a little odd, but there is a scientific connection. Before it starts to rain, the relative humidity goes up. When the humidity is high, the air is filled with tiny water droplets. Flies, like many other insects, find it quite difficult to fly through the heavy air so they tend to settle on objects during moist weather. That explains why insects become more bothersome at sunset when the humidity goes up and just before it rains.
Now, I’m going to throw in the appealing topic of body odour. When the atmospheric pressure decreases, the very thin layer of moisture next to our skin is more easily transferred to the air around us. While this release of sweat may not appeal to you, it makes us more appetizing to insects – flies and mosquitoes too.
There are varying tips and tricks to keep mosquitoes away. I've heard some people say that they stop eating bananas after April. Bananas contain octanol, which is attractive to mosquitos and is often used to in mosquito traps.
I’d love to hear your own tips or tricks to keep mosquitoes away. You can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network