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With a lot of tree cover and a nearby river, the one fly in the ointment(!) at our new place is it has a lot of mosquitos and midges. The latter don't seem to be too much of a bother but the mosquitos, living in long grass and ivy especially, must be of some particularly virulent sub-species or I'm just very sensitive to them: when bitten nothing happens for a day or so, then I get a large swollen lump anything up to a 2" (5cm) across. I may also get raised blisters or it may start continuously weeping for 2-3 days. That's just off one bite!

From a gardening perspective, can I do anything to keep the place clear of them? I know they breed in standing water but with a river nearby I can't eliminate that. I've started clearing ivy which they seem to love, to reduce damp places for them to hang out, but I'm wondering about a more drastic solution - similar to how I go out with my back-pack of weedkiller, can I treat areas with some sort of pesticide - is this even legal, let alone feasible?

In terms of the bites themselves (well, that's a bit off-topic)... but should I find my reaction moderates with repeated exposure? Or could the opposite happen like with people getting more and more allergic to peanuts until it's dangerous?

  • In my experience, your reaction to the bites won't moderate, you're just one of those susceptible people, so you may find they actually get infected sometimes. I don't think it likely you will experience anaphylactic shock over time, the reaction is usually localized, but you might want to consult a professional about that. – Bamboo Jun 21 '17 at 15:05
  • I've started taking a daily antihistamine to see if that builds up some sort of effect... Even wearing long sleeves i invariably geta bite or two every time I do gardening and they're really annoying but to mention ugly – Mr. Boy Jun 21 '17 at 15:07
  • I know the problem - one of my sons has a similar problem, at times he looks like he's covered in boils...I'm sure mosquitoes select their victims, given a choice - they'd ignore me and his brother, and he'd be covered in bites. We only got bitten if he wasn't there. – Bamboo Jun 21 '17 at 15:22
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I would recommend against trying to spray against them, even if you can find a product suitable for the job, you are unlikely to be able to spray a wide enough area for it be effective. If you did spray you would do vast amounts of damage to populations of other beneficial creatures (including some that eat mosquitoes).

Things to consider:

  1. Remove their hangouts - mosquitoes are not the strongest flyers so allowing more of breeze through the garden will help as will removing damp areas and puddles. They don't like very dry, sunny areas so consider creating a sun-trap.
  2. Grow plants that are known to discourage mosquitoes, I don't know where you are based, so can't make any recommendations. Eucalyptus gunnii is one such plant that might be suitable. Will edit if necessary.
  3. Use deterrant products - certainly my relatives in Norway swear by mosquito smoke coils. Citronella candles are also popular. Wear insect repellants yourself.
  4. Cover up wear clothes that make their lives harder.
  5. Consider creating a garden room with mosquito mesh so you can experience the outside safely.
  6. Alter your timings - different species have quite specific times when they are most active. Find out about the species in your area and schedule your time in the garden for when they are least active.

Having studied a fair bit about mosquitoes from an immunopharmacology perspective at uni, it would seem some people are more likely to be bitten than others (my wife always gets bitten, myself rarely) and some people react more seriously. I've not heard of life threatening allergies to bites developing or reactions getting more serious. I have noticed that when my wife gets bitten in a new place the reaction tends to be more serious than if she is bitten at home, so your response may become more moderate with time as you get used to local fauna.

  • Thanks for the thorough answer. We're based in northern England – Mr. Boy Jul 7 '17 at 12:17

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