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November 16th, 2018

BUG OFF! Goes To The Seaside

By Chris Rixson – Marketing Executive, ARCTEC

As the dark nights draw in, and the temperature starts to drop, you may think it’s that time of year to tuck our mosquitoes away, warm and cosy for the winter months… well think again!

With more and more people in the UK taking winter breaks, our Bug Off! campaign stretches beyond the summer months. In fact, our 2018 campaign will run from January right through to November, which, of course, means more public outings for our very popular mosquitoes.

The destination this time? The Bloomsbury Festival and Brighton Science Festival, held across the October half-term week, superbly supported by MASTA Travel Health Clinics.

Bloomsbury Festival – Sunday 21st October

Now don’t worry, we do like to ease our mosquitoes gently into our Bug Off! events. So, after just a short taxi journey from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, we arrived at Brunswick Square, home of the Bloomsbury Festival.

We promptly set-up inside a large marquee, an ideal setting for our mosquitoes who prefer hot and humid conditions (perhaps not so great for our working entomologists).

With the festival based in the heart of London, we spoke to a diverse and engaging audience throughout the day – from students planning their gap year travels but unsure of what protection they need to take, to parents needing advice on suitable repellents to use on their children.

Aside from the spectacular sight of our mosquitoes buzzing around in their custom mozzie boxes, a particular hit with Bloomsbury visitors was our ‘malaria smell test’ – inspired by recent research which found that trained dogs can smell and identify the malaria odour with impressive accuracy*.

We presented the public with two bottled solutions, and tested their ability to detect a distinct ‘malaria scent’ being emitted from one of the bottles. The fun experiment threw up some interesting results, with young children proving to have a surprisingly good sense of smell (who needs sniffer dogs!?).

Our entomologists thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Bloomsbury Festival, and we hope everyone who visited Bug Off! left with greater knowledge on mosquitoes and how to protect against their bites, both at home in the UK and whilst travelling.

Brighton Science Festival – Friday 26th October

It wasn’t long before Bug Off! was back on the road again, heading down to the South Coast for the Brighton Science Festival.

The team were well prepared and ‘Bug Body Ready’ for a visit to the beach – packing sunglasses, plenty of sun lotion (and some trusty repellent, of course). However, upon arriving at a rather wet and windy Brighton Pier, it dawned on us that the seaside doesn’t guarantee the sun!

Nonetheless, we didn’t let the weather dampen our enthusiasm and desire to share engaging travel health advice with visitors to the Brighton Science Festival.

The set-up for the day was in a café on the beachfront, and our entomologists were joined by the experienced and highly-knowledgeable MASTA travel nurse, Hayley.

Soon after doors opened, we had groups of families coming to test their ‘attractiveness’ to our mosquitoes, and for many of the young children it was the first time they had ever seen a mosquito – could we have just inspired the next generation of entomologists?

We even had a curious seagull take a few tentative steps into the café, drawn in perhaps by the smell of freshly-made doughnuts and brewing coffee. Just one look at our mosquitoes though sent it sprawling back out the doors – it didn’t fancy a face-off with our fearless mozzies!

As the day when on, the sun came out and the competition to be the ‘least attractive’ to mosquitoes heated up too – mum vs dad, sister vs brother, bragging rights in the family were at stake!

But amidst the light-hearted competition, there was also a very serious message to get across to these families, which underpins the Bug Off! campaign as a whole – always be prepared when travelling, particularly to tropical countries, visit a travel clinic for advice before you go, and make sure to take repellent and apply it thoroughly throughout your holiday.

For more information on staying safe when travelling, visit www.bug-off.org

* https://www.wired.com/story/the-science-of-the-sniff-why-dogs-are-great-disease-detectors/?mbid=social_tw_sci