Listen, I love summer. I do. But what I don't love is getting eaten alive by mosquitoes every time I step foot outside! I use bug spray whenever I can, but even still I find that those bugs get at me. Plus, I don't want to have to wear bug spray every time I run to the grocery store.
I started looking into reasons why mosquitoes tend to go after some people more than they do others, and I found some pretty interesting facts.
1. They Love Beer
Just like you love a cold beer on a hot day, so do mosquitoes. Opening even one beer outside can attract those annoying buzzing bugs, and it's all because of the bubbles.
“CO2 comes bubbling out of a beer when it’s opened," says Grayson Brown, PhD, director of the Public Health Entomology Laboratory in the Department of Entomology at the University of Kentucky. "CO2 is going to attract mosquitoes that feed mostly on mammals. We know that mosquitoes use CO2 to get close to the mammals.”
If you do want to have a drink, it's best to do that indoors before hitting the deck or patio.
2. Your Blood Type Might Have Something To Do With It
You know how sometimes you feel like out of all your friends, you're the one who's getting bitten the most? It might have something to do with your blood type.
“Your attractiveness to mosquitoes is at least partially genetically-based,” says Joseph Conlon, technical advisor at the American Mosquito Control Association.
It turns out, mosquitoes have been found to be most attracted to type O blood, so if you've got that, you might be in for a bad time.
3. Well-Planned Gardens Freak Them Out
Your garden doesn't just have to be for the aesthetic, it can also be functional in keeping mosquitoes away from you. Planting herbs like rosemary, lemon balm, lavender, marigolds, basil, peppermint, and garlic are all effective ways of keeping pests out of the garden. Mosquitoes have a sensitive sense of smell, and those herbs overpower anything else. The flowering plant will mask and overpower the smell of your skin, meaning they're less likely to come near you.
4. Mosquitoes Love Sweat
Going for a walk or run outside is a great way to spend a summer evening, but it's also a great way to get yourself eaten alive. Mosquitoes are attracted to the bacteria and chemicals that come from your sweat, so if you're exerting yourself outside or even just lounging on a really hot day, your sweat is going to act like an invitation to all the mosquitoes around you.
5. Smoke Keeps Them Away
If you are going to be outside on a summer night, starting a campfire is a good idea to keep the bugs away. Just like how the herbs in your garden mask the smell of your skin, so does the smoke produced from the fire. If you really want to make sure you're not visited by the pests, then throw in some herbs on the flames to use both methods.
6. There Are Only 6 Effective Repellents Recommended By The CDC
Sometimes using bug spray is a must, but how do you know which ones are the best to use? Well, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 6 ingredients that are safe to use.
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
7. You Can Keep Them Out Of The House
Sometimes mosquitoes get inside your house, but there are ways to actively keep them out. These are some tips from the CDC:
- Install or repair and use window and door screens. Do not leave doors propped open.
- Use air conditioning when possible.
- If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps.
- Cover open vent or plumbing pipes.
- Use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
8. Standing Water Attracts Mosquitoes
So it rained last week and now some of your buckets or flower pots are holding water. Not a big deal, right? Wrong. Mosquitoes just need a tiny bit of standing water to lay their eggs in. Orkin warns that “water is also a food source while mosquitoes are in their aquatic stages. Mosquitoes feed on the many kinds of particulate matter that occur in water.”
The CDC set out these guidelines for how to deal with standing water:
- Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
- Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs.
- For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
9. The Females Are The Worst
Did you know it's the female mosquitoes that are the worst? Because they are. Female mosquitoes can draw between 0.001 and 0.01 millilitres of blood, and she'll feed right until her abdomen is full. If you swat the bug away before she's done sucking blood, she's go to the next person and just take it from then. She rests for two or three days, lays her eggs, and then goes back to work looking for blood. The females are the ones you need to worry about.
10. Some Perfume Deters Them
So we know that mosquitoes have a huge sense of smell, but there's actually a perfume from Victoria Secret that basically acts like bug spray. The perfume smells great to humans, but to mosquitoes it couldn't have been worse. The thing is, no one actually knows what ingredient in the perfume was keeping the bugs away.
“It’s probably composed of dozens of secret ingredients, and maybe one or two of them are repellents,” says Stacy Rodriguez, author of a study published in the Journal of Insect Science.
11. Leggings Make You Vulnerable
Leggings are comfortable, and in the summer they can be a great way to stay cool while still wearing long pants. However, though you might think that something so tight would stop mosquitoes from having access to your skin, you'd be wrong.
“Spandex is very mosquito-friendly,” says Rodriguez. “They bite through it.”
Instead, you should be looking to wear looser-fitting clothing in the summer months when the bugs are the worst. It makes it harder for the mosquitoes to get to your skin. It also keeps heat-driven insects away from your body because it keeps you cooler thanks to the air flow they allow.
It's important to keep yourself protected from mosquitoes, as they can carry diseases that can be very dangerous. Bug spray is always important, but these tips can add an extra layer of protection to you during the summer months.
[H/T: Reader's Digest]