There’s little that’s more misery-inducing than being irresistible to mosquitos. Just how do you stop them biting? If you’re not keen on using chemical repellents like DEET, there is a way to stop mosquitos – and it involves eating certain foods.
What Attracts Mosquitos?
Mosquitos find their food by smell, and that means that they home in on sources of carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Animals and people produce these compounds, so they help mosquitos find us easily.
Chemical repellents do work, but it’s not because mosquitos can’t stand the smell. It’s because DEET is very good at masking our aromas, so mosquitos can’t smell carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Citronella and geranium oil also work the same way, but they are not as effective as DEET.
Why Are Some People More Attractive to Mosquitos?
Some unfortunate souls seem to be mosquito magnets, and it’s down to the way they smell.
Everyone has their own distinctive smell, and around 400 aromatic compounds make up the human scent. However, around 30 of those have a masking effect, and if you have them in your aromatic fingerprint, it makes you less of a target for mosquitos.
Other compounds attract mosquitos, making around 10% of the population susceptible to mosquito misery.
Garlic Can Help
It’s often said to be an old wives’ tale, but garlic can offer some protection from mosquitos. It does this from the odor on your breath, and the sulfur compounds that come out through your skin.
Smearing your body with garlic-scented lotion can be effective, but most of us really wouldn’t want to go down that route. Eating garlic can give you mild protection, as mentioned above.
Scientists say that genetics accounts for about 85% of our attraction for mosquitos, so we may have to just grin and bear it.
Trying to avoid exercise can help too, as exertion makes us produce more of the attractants that bring the mosquitos – it’s a good excuse to take it easy!
Which Foods Are Most Effective?
Chemistry professor Anne Helmenstine says that eating salty foods, or those that are high in potassium increases the amount of lactic acid you give off in your scent. Sadly, most fruits and veggies are high in potassium, although if you stick to blueberries, apples, watermelon, cucumbers, cabbage, and green peppers you could be ok as they contain fairly low amounts of potassium.
High potassium produce includes prunes, potatoes, raisins, spinach, bananas, lima beans, and acorn squash.
Other Methods of Avoiding Bites
Try wearing light colored clothing and stay indoors during early morning and twilight if you can. If none of the natural remedies works for you, DEET may be the only way to get relief.
Wear long sleeves or trousers to cover up as much of your skin as you can, in order to limit your exposure to DEET. Spray it on your clothing as well as any exposed skin, and wash the repellent off your skin as soon as you come inside, and put the clothes you wore in the laundry.