by Karyn Brown
Mosquitoes love me. I can be with a group in a buggy area and everyone will get two or three bites, while I will get 20. I used to think it was a fluke, but it turns out that this is a real phenomenon, and about 10% of the population is just like me.
Why is this? Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer, and nothing I can really do about it, but it has to do with the many different aromatic compounds (about 400 of them, in fact) that make up the human scent. My particular scent includes more compounds that attract mosquitoes and fewer that repel them.
Would it help if I ate a lot of garlic?
Studies involving eating garlic have shown no measurable effect on attractiveness to mosquitoes. Rubbing it on your skin can help for a few minutes, but who really wants to do that? Although they do prefer certain people over others, in general mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, lactic acid and dark clothing. So the best thing to do if you need to go outside is to cover up with light, loose-fitting clothing, and try not to move around too much.
What about all the other repellents that we hear about?
The most effective is without question DEET, which masks carbon dioxide and lactic acid and lasts for several hours. It also helps if you stay in an area with good air movement, such as near a fan, as mosquitoes don’t fly well in wind. The rest of the repellents I have researched are less-than effective:
- Bug zapper….not effective, kills mostly non-target insects such as moths
- Citronella (applied topically)….repels for 20 minutes or less
- Citronella candles….only effective in the very near vicinity of the candle
- Dryer sheets (rubbed on clothes and skin)….no measurable effect on mosquito behavior
- Garlic (ingested)….no measurable effect on mosquito behavior
- Garlic (applied topically)….short term mosquito repellent
- IR3535 (Avon Skin So Soft)….effective for about 20 minutes
- Lemon eucalyptus oil….studies have shown some promise
- Listerine (applied topically)….no measurable effect on mosquito behavior
- Scented shampoo/soap/perfume (touted as attractive to mosquitoes)….no measurable effect on mosquito behavior
- Vitamin B (ingested)….no measurable effect on mosquito behavior
Will it ever get better?
It might! Your scent changes over time, and some people become less attractive (or more!) when they become pregnant, enter puberty, or go through any number of other bodily changes. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Mosquito Squad can help you enjoy your yard even if you are the Austin’s worst mosquito magnet. You can choose between our conventional and all natural treatments for getting rid of those nasty biters!