Since I’m a “pom”, mosquitoes seem to have a natural affinity for my blood and I’m always first on their list when I’m sitting among a group in the back garden on a balmy Sydney evening. We’ve had a fair bit of “balmy” weather lately (or “barmy” weather according to its affect on my state of mind!). Coupled with unusually heavy rainfall this has apparently set prime conditions for unusually high levels of mosquito breeding. I’ve heard it mentioned on the radio and in the local paper during the last couple of days that we are due an explosion of mossies in about three or four days time, when the two week incubation period of the larvae comes to an end.
Of course mossies are an every day part of summer living in Sydney (and all year round elsewhere) so most Sydney Siders wouldn’t blink an eyelid. However, the entomology department at Westmead Hospital (thats the boffins who study insects and insect borne disease) think otherwise. They have been keeping an eye on things over the past twelve months and last summer did detect the presence of Ross River Virus in mossies they trapped in the St George area of Sydney. The virus has not been detected yet this year and it typically doesnt make it this far south. But it can’t hurt to be a bit prepared, especially if you are heading out after dark, like we will be next weekend when we head to Wollemi National Park to go camping.
We’re all familiar with methods to keep mossies away but here’s a summary of the advice from NSW Health on the topic:
- Avoid being outside in late afternoon or dusk (tricky one if you’re camping!)
- Use a repellent every few hours
- When applying to children avoid the eyes and mouth areas. Some repellents are also not suitable for prolonged use on children (so I am on the look out for one that is chemical free, particularly for children under two).
- Light mosquito coils (we also use citronella candles)
- Cover up as much as possible
- Use mosquito nets and fly screens (especially when camping)
- Use insect sprays in bedrooms (we used a plant based one)
Here’s a link to the NSW Health fact sheet
Here’s the link to the Westmead Entomology Department (if you’re interested the science and more info on mosquito borne disease):
If anyone knows of a good repellent for children, let me know. Just to be on the safe side I’ll also be cooking with lots of garlic!