In order to survive

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I've lived in this particular part of Vienna for a little over ten years now. It's an urban area, close to the city center, in a district with a Green Party majority, but virtually no green, no parks, and no ponds or other bodies of water.

Up until a few weeks ago, this topographical predisposition has meant that this area was virtually mosquito-free. In fact, I don't think that I've ever had mosquitos in my flat, and I cannot remember ever having been bitten by these pests when sitting outside one of the many cafés and restaurants in the area.

This has changed dramatically. Due to heavy rainfall a few weeks ago, this area is now inundated with mosquitos. In fact it's so bad that you're close to being sucked dry if you leave your house after 6pm without wearing thick layers of insect repellent. Early this morning I woke up from a high-piched buzzing noise next to my right ear. They had arrived in my bedroom.

Today, I mounted a fly screen on my bedroom window and scorched the place with an insect poison that's purportedly harmless for humans (to be on the safe side, I left the room immediately, and then opened the fly-screened window wide to get some of the poison out).

It's as if I was living in the countryside, which is odd in an area without the slightest touch of countryside about it.

In fact, it's a lot worse in the countryside right now. A colleague of mine at work told me he hasn't been able to sit on his balcony even once this summer; first because it was so cold, then because of the heavy rain, and now because of the mosquitos.

My own complaints seem to pale in comparison.

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One of the differences I noticed between Europe and the US is that in the US it is virtually unheard of not to have screens on every window that opens in every dwelling, whether in a city, suburban area or country. Also it is common to have screen doors. Old, poorly maintained houses may have broken screens or screens with holes, but screens nonetheless. This is not only to keep insects out, but also birds, and bats, which may have rabies. Rabid bats are something of a concern here. Also, some windows are close to the floor, and screens offer some protection against toddlers accidently falling out of upstairs windows.

On the other hand, I spent a month in Vienna two years ago in an efficiency apartment in the first district. I kept my unscreened window wide open the entire time, and can't recall even one insect coming in. Sorry to hear it's different now.

The mosquitos in Vienna are getting really pretty annoying. When I got bitten a week ago, I bought an electronic bite zapping device (heats up to 50˚C for a couple of seconds, destroys the itchy molecule chains), and now the most annoying thing about the mosquitos is the whining noise... and the itching until the moment I hit the bite with the zapper.

They sell them at pretty much any pharmacy, at around €20. Mine's called "Bite Away", but they're all equivalent, I'm sure. At any rate, best ~€20 I ever spent (-:

@antifuchs. How long have you been using the device? I would fear the possibility of scars.

I apply insect repellent before going to bed. How pathetic is that. But I think at least I have been untroubled by "Kriebelmücken" (blackflies) so far.

I'm wondering, with so many mosquitoes around, what do people in Vienna find most effective as a repellent? Is it DEET, which has some precautions, picaridin (icaridin) containing products, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or something else?

Consumer Reports Health recently tested insect repellents - DEET containing products were rated most effective, followed closely by oil of lemon eucalyptus. Products containing Picaridin (Icaridin in Europe) were rated third, and were not as effective against all types of mosquitoes. I think Autan has Icaridin as the active ingredient. There's a product called NoBite XF, which contains oil of lemon eucalyptus, among other things. There are different types of Parazeet, one with Icaridin, one with IR3535, and one with 50% DEET (Parazeet Normal Skin - extra strong) - this third one was likely what was recommended by the pharmacist.

I imagine any of these products would be fine if there were only a few mosquitoes; I was interested to know what actually works in the conditions you describe. Thank you for the explanation.

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