11 Things Mosquitoes Don’t Want You To Know
With summer in full swing, read these secrets about mosquitoes before heading out for some fun in the sun.
We love beer
There’s nothing like an ice cold beer on a hot summer night—just make sure to drink up inside. Why? A study by Japanese researchers uncovered that drinking a single beer increases mosquito attraction. Mosquito specialist Grayson Brown, PhD, director of the Public Health Entomology Laboratory in the Department of Entomology at the University of Kentucky, tells CBS News that “CO2 comes bubbling out of a beer when it’s opened. C02 is going to attract mosquitoes that feed mostly on mammals. We know that mosquitoes use CO2 to get close to the mammals.”
Leggings are our favorite accessory
You might think covering up in tight clothes is a smart idea since the pesky bugs won’t be able to attack your bare skin, right? Wrong. A study published in the Journal of Insect Science maintains the popular pants are a fashion don’t! “Spandex is very mosquito-friendly,” says study author Stacy Rodriguez in a press release. “They bite through it.” You’re better off wearing loose-fitting clothing—it makes it harder for mosquitoes to locate exposed skin. Another perk: This type of wardrobe will keep you cooler and redirect the heat–driven insects away from your body.
We wish you wouldn’t wear that perfume
Rodriguez has also found that a popular perfume by Victoria’s Secret called Bombshell can work as a repellent. Despite its pleasant scent, the biting bugs hated the smell. However, because cosmetics contain so many ingredients—some of them proprietary—there’s no way to tell what the active agent is: “It’s probably composed of dozens of secret ingredients, and maybe one or two of them are repellents,” says Rodriguez.
We don’t like well-planned gardens
Mosquitoes dislike a number of lovely smelling flowers and herbs, according to Lawn & Landscape, including rosemary, lemon balm, lavender, marigolds, basil, peppermint, and garlic. The pests have very delicate sensing mechanisms that can be overwhelmed by the aroma of a flowering plant or common household herb. If they can’t smell your skin, blood, or sweat, they will seek out other locations. Check out this list of plants repel mosquitoes.
We only need a little standing water to breed
Mosquitoes can lay eggs in the standing water you’d find in a bottle cap, reports the Environmental Protection Agency, so scan your yard for any potential breeding areas. The EPA advises “emptying and scrubbing, turning over, covering, or throwing out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers.” The pest control company 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.” It’s worth the effort: These are 12 mosquito-borne diseases you need to know about.
Please don’t buy these effective repellents at Amazon
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists only four chemicals as being effective for repelling mosquitoes: DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and IR3535. Mosquitoes might think they’ve just entered the hunger games, but there are products on the market that work. NPR has reported that lemon eucalyptus oil can be almost as effective and long-lasting as products containing DEET. Here are some more mosquito repellents worth stocking up on.
You can keep us out of your home
Control mosquitoes inside your home by installing proper-fitting window and door screens. Repair tears and holes immediately. Look out for cracks in windowsills and under doors. Since mosquitoes love heat, keep the air conditioning running when possible, according to the CDC. A fan that creates a breeze will also annoy and deter the blood-sucking weak fliers while keeping you comfy and cool.
We hate smoke
Mosquitoes are unlikely to join your s’mores party around the fire pit or campfire sing-alongs—the smoke smothers their senses making it difficult for them to find you. The experts at Gardentherapy.com suggest throwing in some herb branches to increase the effect: They recommend lavender, mint, lemon balm, sage, and citronella. Be sure not to fall for these myths about mosquito control.
Our females are voracious
A female will continue to bite and draw blood until her abdomen is full (about between 0.001 and 0.01 milliliters of blood). If she is interrupted before she is full, she will just fly to the next person. After that big feeding, the female rests for two or three days before laying her eggs. And then she’s ready to bite and eat again, according to Mosquito World—a site devoted to controlling the blood-sucking critters.
We prefer type O blood
“Your attractiveness to mosquitoes is at least partially genetically-based,” says Joseph Conlon, technical advisor at the American Mosquito Control Association. Some of the bacteria your skin produces when you sweat can be particularly enticing to mosquitoes, as well as your blood type. A 2004 study from The Institute of Pest Control Technology found that mosquitoes were most attracted to type O blood.
We love your stinky sweat
Mosquitoes are attracted to the bacteria and chemicals that live in your sweat, including lactic acid. So, if you’re an outdoor exerciser, beware—mosquitoes sense and like that moist body heat, says Marie Jhin, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in San Francisco. Since dark clothing generates heat, avoid it. If you feel like a target for these insects, take a look at 10 weird reasons mosquitoes love to bite you.