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Before living in Italy mosquitoes were not part of my life - and apparently, as I've been told many times by amused locals - they must like my blood. During a particularly bad year on a weekend in Padua I counted 100 bites, from the top of my head down to my toes. I ended up a sweaty mess having decided to sleep in pyjamas and socks so as not to expose any further parts of my flesh (sadly the friend I was visiting didn't have aircon so we had to have the windows open or suffocate). Luckily I didn't get any scarring or infections from the bites (regular mosquitoes not Tiger mosquitoes), but still, that was a year I will never forget!
Since that weekend I always prepare myself before mosquito season begins - which can be from as early as Spring (March/April) if the temperature stays above 10°c. From March to June larvae are hatching so this is the best period to carry out pest control measures. Generally hotels with pools, gardens, grounds or water features should start doing this before high season kicks in (high season for both tourists and mosquitoes).
From June to September I'd suggest keeping mosquito repellent, and 'after bite' gel in your handbag and get some of those lovely yellow citronella candles if dining al fresco. There are repellents for skin application which contain citronella (odious to mosquitoes) but they are quite strong smelling, and odious to me also - plus I also have very sensitive skin so I usually opt for products suitable for babies. My favourite is the Chicco brand, and (I've not tried it yet) Monellini. Another brand I haven't tried yet is Flora, found in shops called 'erboristeria' (herbalist/health shop).
If you have a bad reaction to a mosquito bite (or any insect bite...) cortisone cream usually does the trick, or an antihistamine tablet, or in worse cases a shot at A&E (ER) but you should really consult a pharmacist who will be able to advise you. I have had bites which have swollen to 7 cm across and raised by about half a cm and have used cortisone cream, which gave improvement. If you get no relief from a bite or it gets worse it would be wise to get to a hospital.
On a similar note: last year we had a big problem with what I would describe as a very irritating cousin of the mosquito called pappataci (which literally means "eat silently" - which I believe are the same as Sand Flies (even though we are nowhere near any sand: Phlebotomus papatasi). These are smaller and can fit thorough mosquito screens. Unlike mosquitoes they do not buzz so you have no idea when you are being attacked. Their bites are quite painful and even more itchy than mosquito bites - I never thought I'd hear myself saying that I'd prefer mosquitoes!
We discovered that they attack during hours of darkness, since they are disturbed by the light. We also discovered that they travel in pairs so if you manage to kill one...keep a look out for the other. They move very fast and are not easy to kill but not impossible.
Unfortunately essential oils that keep such insects away are very dangerous for cats....and we have a cat. So alternatives include pots of Geranium and Incense on balconies and creating your own pappataci screen (I have used a fine white muslin to allow max daylight and fresh air to pass through). Last year I only managed a makeshift affair but the little monsters managed to get past the gaps around the edges.
To keep pappataci bites infection-free I used tiny dabs of pure Tea Tree essential oil.
Pappataci are mainly active between May and September. Personally we've found June to be the worst month.
The word for Mosquito in Italian is Zanzara.
The more aggressive Tiger Mosquto is called: Zanzara Tigre.
On a happier note there is a very pleasant bistro in Rome called La Zanazara, located on Via Crescenzio, which is quite close to the Vatican. A popular hangout for locals and tourists.
Final note: keep all kinds of essential oils and mosquito sprays away from part of the body such as inside the nose, mouth, eyes - basically all the places you wouldn't want to touch yourself accidentally with chilli pepper. Avoid wearing sweet scented perfumes, which may attract bees/wasps).
For further info in mosquitoes and pappataci: http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/healthtopics/vectors/sanflies/Pages/sandflies.aspx
Disclaimer: Laran Tours of Lazio accepts no responsibility for illness, misadventure or death arising from actions taken as a result of reading this document. The information in this document is meant only as a source of information and guidance. It is in no way meant to be taken as medical instruction or diagnosis. You should not rely on material here above and it is up to you to contact a health professional if you are concerned about your health.
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