Avoiding mosquitoes: 8 need-to-knows
The impending arrival of summer means long, hot days and nights - and inevitably MORE mosquitoes. Just like humans, mosquitoes have preferences and 10-20% of us just happen to get bitten more often than others. While 85% of mosquitoes' attraction to us is to do with genetics, which we can’t control i.e. genes dictate our blood type and the chemical makeup of our skin. We can control environmental factors like what we wear and our alcohol intake.
1. Avoid wearing dark colors, especially black, navy and red
The Aedes aegypti mosquito which transmits Zika virus, dengue fever and Chikungunya is attracted to red and black, so avoid that color combination at all costs.
2. Reduce your alcohol intake
According to a study published in Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA).Just one bottle of beer can significantly boost your risk of being bitten.Researchers suspect it's because drinking beer increases the ethanol in your sweat, and ups your body temperature. The jury is still out on whether that glass of wine will have the same effect.
3. Choose skin care products with care
Many moisturizing lotions and creams contain lactic acid which can attract mosquitoes. Skin rejuvenating products that contain alpha hydroxy acids should also be avoided as this chemical is also a mosquito attractant.
4. Relax more and don’t work up a sweat!
When you exercise, your body produces more lactic acid and CO2 (carbon dioxide) which is highly attractive to many mosquito species.
5. Delay parenthood
Pregnant women attract almost twice as many mosquitoes as their non-pregnant counterparts. That’s because their body temperature is 1.26 degrees higher and they exhale 21% more CO2, a known mosquito attractant.
6. Keep your feet clean and change socks on a regular basis
Smelly feet and socks are apparently irresistible to mosquitoes. More specifically, it's the bacteria that grow on our feet that draw them in. Limburger cheese, which is made with the same bacteria found on our feet, will also attract the biters.
7. Switch to as many unscented beauty products as you can
That includes hair sprays, shampoos, soaps and body lotions. Fragrances are known to attract mosquitoes, so perfumes and colognes should also be used sparingly. That is unless it’s Victoria’s Secret Bombshell, which apparently mosquitoes hate. When tested, the Bombshell perfume repelled mosquitoes for about two hours after it was applied, almost as effective as DEET, the best of the repellents tested.
8. Wear an effective repellent
Repellents don't kill mosquitoes and do nothing to reduce mosquito populations. However, they are effective at preventing bites and many experts consider them to be the number one weapon against mosquitoes. The CDC recommends repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, OLE (Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus) or IR3535. However, in the latest Consumer Reports survey (May 2015) the IR3535 products didn’t make their list of top sprays. Some of the plant-oil products couldn’t ward off the disease carrying Aedes (zika, dengue, chikungunya) mosquitoes for even half an hour.