Mosquitoes are a pesky nuisance for many this time of year. Besides the irritating itch, infectious mosquito-transmitted diseases such as West Nile virus, malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis, chikungunya, and Zika are still threats throughout the world. But there are easy things you can do to repel mosquitoes and stop being a mosquito magnet!
Some people are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than others. Understanding how mosquitoes select their target, what they are attracted to, and what they find offensive, could hold the key to preventing mosquito bites.
With their keen sense of smell, mosquitoes can detect their next victim up to 55 yards (50 meters) away. Only the female mosquito bites, males do not. The female mosquito needs the iron and protein in your blood to produce eggs.
Scents That Make You A Mosquito Magnet:
- Carbon Dioxide: The larger the person, the more carbon dioxide they tend to exhale, which mosquitoes (and black flies) find irresistible. Adults are more apt to be bitten by mosquitoes than small children. Pregnant women also produce more carbon dioxide and are more susceptible to pesky bites. Of course, there’s nothing you can do about this, as we all need to breathe, but it’s a factor to understand.
- Movement and Heat: If you’re outdoors and physically active on a hot summer evening, you could be attracting mosquitoes in your direction. Mosquitoes find you less appealing when you’re stationary. Opt for the hammock.
- Body Odor – Sweat does not have a scent until bacteria develops. It’s old sweat that mosquitoes find enticing. Research indicates that mosquitoes are especially drawn to smelly feet and socks. If you’re about to head outdoors at dawn or dusk or in a waterfront area where mosquitoes are prevalent, shower first and use a perfume-free soap. Wear clean socks every time you venture outdoors. Entertaining outdoors in mosquito country? Lure mosquitoes away from you by hanging a smelly gym sock from a tree branch well outside the area. Let the socks be the mosquito magnet!
- Lactic Acid: Your muscles produce lactic acid during vigorous exercise. When you are active or eating specific foods, your skin emits lactic acid and the more lactic acid on your skin, the greater your chances of getting bitten. Shower before heading outdoors to remove any build-up on your skin and exercise outside during daylight hours to reduce bites.
Does Blood Type Matter?
While there are things that you can do to avoid mosquito bites, there are certain things you cannot change. Certain body secretions that you can’t control attract mosquitoes. People also emit different scents based on their blood type. If you have Type O blood, you are naturally more susceptible to bites than those with Type A, which mosquitoes are least drawn to.
Researchers are seeking ways to minimize or mask the human scents that attract mosquitoes.
Scents that Repel Mosquitoes:
- Chickens – Scientists report that mosquitoes stay clear of most birds. In Ethiopia, researchers conducted a study using live chickens, humans, and mosquitoes. They found that the scent chickens give off kept the human participants from getting bitten by mosquitoes. Scientists are working on extracting certain chicken compounds to formulate a repellent, to stop the spread of disease. In the meantime, if you have chickens, allowing them to free range outdoors not only increases the amount of vitamin D in the eggs they lay but may keep you from getting mosquito bites.
- Garlic – Consuming fresh garlic on a regular basis, or taking a garlic supplement, may cause your skin to emit a scent that can repel mosquitoes and ticks.
- B1 vitamin (thiamine) – Taking a B1 vitamin supplement or wearing a thiamine skin patch may cause your skin to give off a scent that only mosquitoes will detect and find unpleasant. Since this vitamin is water-soluble toxicity is not a concern. Ask your healthcare provider for dosage recommendations.
- Natural plant-based oils:
- Lemon eucalyptus
- Cinnamon leaf oil
More ways to repel mosquitoes:
Repelling Mosquitos – a timely tip!
Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.