On a couple of our camping trips this summer we were besieged by mosquitoes. I don’t think there was anyone who came away completely unmolested but some of us definitely seemed to be tastier that others, with a trip to hot humid bug haven Florida coming up I thought I’d look into what is it about me that makes me so appetizing and see if there is anything I can do to make myself less appealing.
I came up with some facts that really surprised me so I thought I’d share my findings
Mosquitoes detect carbon dioxide in the air, & can smell their dinner from an astonishing distance of 50 meters, once they get a whiff they fly in a zigzag pattern through the CO2 plume until they zero in the source. Cut down on exercise later in the day when mosquitoes are most active.
Mosquitoes first locate potential victims using their sight, the more you run around, the more mozzy attention you attract, they see you as a waiter waving them to a free table at your skin smorgasbord
3. Heat Skeeters are heat-seeking missiles. They can’t sense your body heat from a great distance, once they get within a few yards, your warmth will welcome them with open (bare) arms.
4. Body Odor the more you move the more you sweat and now you have added the sweet sweaty smell of lactic acid on your skin, a succulent sauce inviting your mozzy neighbors over for chow.
5. Lotion If you do decide to shower off, be careful you aren’t following your ablutions with lotion, containing “alpha hydroxy,” as this will return a hearty helping of luscious lactic acid right back on to your skin!.
6. Color of Clothing.
Mozzys like dark colors, especially blue. They spot hosts by comparing your silhouette to the horizon. Dark colors stand out, while light shades blend in, Now this really irks me, we always dress in dark clothing when camping, I really don’t want to see just how dusty and filthy we are!
A tent reeking of stinky feet may be repellant to yours truly but Mosquitoes love smelly feet. In an experiment Entomologist Daniel L. Kline actually used 3-day-old dirty socks as a mosquito lure socks, the bacteria that grow on human feet proved irresistible to them.
Discerning skeeters are especially attracted to floral scents
9. Eat, drink and attract many!
Studies show people who’ve had a few beers, drank coffee or indulged in some strong smelling cheese tend to score the most mosquito bites. Beware the Limburger, this cheese is actually made with the same bacteria that makes your feet stink!
10. Dusk and Dawn mosquitoes usually feed at dawn and dusk when the wind tends to die down and the humidity rises.
So what to do?
A Mosquito bite could mean more than a few days of itching, for some people severe allergic reactions can follow a bite and not to mention that threat of mosquito-transmitted illnesses.
The West Nile virus appeared in the U.S. in 1999. In 2008 alone, the CDC reported 1,356 cases of West Nile throughout the U.S. and 44 deaths.
• DEET continues to be most popular chemical in repellents, Repellents with 23.8% DEET (most formulas contain 10% – 30%) protects for about 5 hours.
• Picaridin has proven to be as effective as DEET but is pleasanter to use as it is odorless. Picaridin is safe for children older than 2 months.
• Avon’s Skin-So-Soft, o has been marketed as a mosquito repellent in the U.S. Research shows it’s much less effective than DEET.
• DeckMate Mosquito Repellent, available as a paper strip, to be placed in outdoor areas like patios and decks. It can also be worn; it comes in a small container with a replaceable cartridge. Clip onto a belt or clothing, it relies on a battery-powered fan to release the mosquito repellent into the area, surrounding and protecting the wearer
Non Chemical-based Alternatives
If you want to avoid chemical-based repellents altogether try these.
• Oils — citronella, cedar, peppermint, lemongrass, and geranium — provide short-lived protection.
• Oil of eucalyptus products, may offer longer-lasting protection
• Repel – uses oil of lemon eucalyptus offers protection similar to low concentrations of DEET. Lemon eucalyptus is safe for children older than 3 years
• Don’t Bite Me! Skin patches containing thiamine (vitamin B1) produces skin odor female mosquitoes don’t like.
Bugs Be Gone
• Mosquito traps, work by emitting substances that biting mosquitoes find attractive — such as carbon dioxide, heat, moisture, then trap or kill female mosquitoes.
• Insect shield repellent apparel — clothing infused with the chemical insecticide permethrin.
• Find and eliminate standing water, clogged gutters, garbage cans, bird baths even the crevices of plastic toys are an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes,
So there it is, I shall spend my evenings dressed in all white, (sorry I shan’t be able to help with cooking or doing anything dirty, I’ve gone from mozzie magnet to stain magnet) situate myself in front of a fan and lay quite still on the chaise lounge not breaking a sweat and resisting any cheesy appetizers.
Thankfully I didn’t read anything about mosquitoes having a fondness my favorite red liquid, which I will of course sip slowly!