Yup, all that heart-healthy activity can make you more desirable to mosquitoes. That’s because these biting insects seek out carbon dioxide, which we exhale at an increased rate during and after aerobic exercise. Don’t stop working out, of course, but do armor up with bug repellent before you head outside.
Wearing the Wrong Clothing
Your style can be a liability where mosquitoes are concerned. Shorts and tank tops increase your exposed surface area, and mosquitoes are drawn to your warm skin. Cover up to prevent bites, or choose fabrics that have been treated with the chemical insecticide permethrin.
Relying on Citronella
Citronella is a popular alternative to more hard-core repellents like DEET. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, is skeptical of its powers and doesn’t list citronella as a recommended mosquito repellent. Instead, try products that contain lemon eucalyptus or other essential oils to find out what works for your body.
Too Much Still Air
Fans are a simple, effective way to keep mosquitoes at bay. Not only do they throw mosquitoes off your scent, but the airflow can also disrupt the insects' flight path. Before your next outdoor party, make use of the power of fans by strategically positioning several electric or cordless ones, and supply your guests with paper fans as party favors—and mosquito deterrents.
Using the Wrong Soap
Do you shun any form of bug repellent? Are you anti-DEET? Even if you don’t like harsh chemicals on your skin, you can still find a bug spray that will work for you. Try out Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent, a DEET-less product that made Consumer Reports’ 2019 list of Best Insect Repellents.
Mosquitoes are attracted to chemicals in our sweat. In fact, new research shows that mosquitoes have an olfactory co-receptor gene called lr8a. Switch this gene off, and mosquitoes are 50 percent less likely to detect natural compounds and odors in human sweat—and less likely to bite you. Unfortunately, this research hasn't yet been applied to mosquito control. Until then, wear sweat-wicking fabrics when outdoors.
You've Got the Wrong Genes
One in 10 people (or, by some estimates, 2 in 10) are bona fide mosquito magnets. Our genes are responsible for 85 percent of our attractiveness to mosquitoes. While we can't do anything about our genetic makeup, scientists have been tinkering with mosquitoes' genes. So, if you're in the itchy 10 (or 20) percent, keep your eyes on the horizon for genetic breakthroughs in mosquito control.
Could It Be Your Diet?
The good news is, despite popular mythology, there's no scientific evidence that your diet affects your attractiveness to mosquitoes. (There is, however, some indication that drinking beer may attract them.) The bad news: If we can't eat our way to a mosquito-free existence, we have to rely on topical repellents. To find the best one for you, check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s helpful guide to effective insect repellents.
Your Body Odor
About 400 unique compounds on human skin could affect our desirability to mosquitoes. Researchers have homed in on lactic acid, which is secreted through sweat glands, as one factor that ups your chance for bites. Natural bug repellents may work because they mask our body odor, rendering us less appealing or less noticeable to mosquitoes.
Use these tips to make yourself less attractive to pesky critters.
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