Mosquitoes are a pesky nuisance for many this time of year. Besides the irritating itch, infectious mosquito–transmitted diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus, dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis, chikungunya, and Zika are still threats throughout the world. But there are easy things you can do to 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 its keen sense of smell, mosquitoes can detect its 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 Draw Mosquitoes:
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- Lactic Acid – Your muscles produce lactic acid during vigorous exercise. When you are active or eating specific foods, your skin emits lactic acid. The more lactic acid on your skin, the greater your chances of getting bitten by mosquitoes. Shower before heading outdoors to remove any build-up on your skin. Exercise outside during daylight hours only to avoid bites.
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 it lays, 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 mosquitoes and ticks find offensive.
- 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 – Oil of eucalyptus, lemon eucalyptus, cinnamon leaf oil, citronella, and soybean-oil based repellents are safer for use than the chemical-based repellents like DEET, which have the potential for causing adverse health effects.
Want more ways to combat mosquitos? Take a look!
Repelling Mosquitos – a timely tip!
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