Once bitten, twice shy

Local mosquitoes seem immune to foreign sprays

Once bitten, twice shy

Some say that people with a particular blood type attract more mosquitoes and thus get bitten more. Apparently those with Type O blood are a favourite dining option for the bloodsucking pest.

But Joe Conlon, a technical adviser to the American Mosquito Control Association, says that secretions on the skin are more important. “There’s no question that everyone has a different odour about them,” he says. “The mosquitoes have honed in on this and have determined that some people should be on the menu more often than others.”

How to stop them, however? Most people rely on sprays and other repellents to ward the mossies off, but Modern Express reports that Chinese consumers are finding that foreign products are no match for their homegrown mosquitoes.

On e-commerce sites like Taobao and Tmall, mosquito repellents have proven some of the most popular purchases this summer. Some of the most-bought brands are imported from Japan and the US, with health-conscious customers shunning local alternatives. But many shoppers aren’t too pleased with the results, claiming that these imported products do little to keep the Chinese mosquitoes at bay.

One Japanese repellent claims to have “three times the effect in getting rid of mosquitoes”. But reviews from buyers have countered that it is virtually useless on the larger insects from China.

“You can say the repellent basically has no impact on local mosquitoes. I put on the mosquito repellent more for psychological comfort,” one dissatisfied customer told the newspaper.

One reason why imported repellents may be less effective is because more mosquitoes in China have developed resistance to chemical agents.

Simply put, local farming practices are creating a new breed of super-mosquito unperturbed by any of the sprays, coils and lotions that have been designed to deter them.

Research from the Nanjing Disease Control Bureau in Jiangsu seems to back that up, with the bureau blaming lax regulation of the usage of pesticides such as DTT and dichlorvos.

Research studies near fields where the largest amounts of pesticides were used also found insects seemed to be the most chemical-resistant.

“All the mosquitoes in China have learned to adapt from our high concentration of pesticides – so of course they are unafraid of such weak stuff [referring to foreign repellents],” says a local repellent maker. Something to bear in mind on your next China trip…

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