If you detest being around mosquitoes, you’re not alone, and it’s not without reason. After all, their bites come with a pretty substantial risk.
They can infect humans with the Zika virus, yellow fever, dengue, malaria, and other diseases. In fact, they kill more humans, than human murderers do, which makes them the deadliest creature on Earth.
There is no other species, including our own, that’s responsible for the loss of as many human lives every year as mosquitoes are.
While humans murder some 475,000 other people each year, the diseases these insects carry and transmit to people they bite, end the lives of 725,000.
Yet the most common animals people have a phobia of are snakes and spiders.
Ophidiophobia, or the fear of snakes,, affects millions, but just 70 people died from a snake bite over an eight-year period between 1999 and 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Arachnophobia, or fear of spiders, ranks just after ophidiophobia, yet only 59 people died from a snake bite during that same period.
That’s a drop in the bucket compared to mosquitoes.
It was a mosquito bite that was believed to have killed the king of Macedonia and conqueror of the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great, who had never lost a battle, yet came to his death at the hands of a West Nile virus-infected mosquito, according to a 2003 historical review published by the CDC.
Not all mosquitoes bite, however, as different mosquitoes have different feeding habits.
There are more than 3,000 different species of mosquitoes throughout the world, about 200 of which can be found in the United States.
Some don’t eat blood at all; and of the ones that do eat blood, some don’t eat human blood. It’s only the female mosquito that’s about to lay eggs that bites for blood, as it needs the nutrients in order to lay them.
While scientists once believed that everyone got bit the same amount and it was just sensitivity that led some of us to notice it more than others, it turned out that was wrong.
Recent studies have proven that your gut feeling that you’re more attractive to bugs, including mosquitoes, was right.
Their research now suggests that around one in five of us are much more attractive to these menacing insects.
As much as 85 percent of mosquito attraction seems to be a reaction to unique genetic traits that lead to us to giving off certain odors that attract or repel mosquitoes, something that’s been confirmed in research of identical versus fraternal twins.
It was shown that that mosquitoes didn’t differentiate between the former, but did for the latter pairings.
Even if it is genetics, there are things you may be doing that make you even more attractive to mosquitoes, but once you’re aware of them, you can finally do something to stop it.
7 Things That Make You More Attractive To Mosquitoes
Those tiny flying nuisances crave lactic acid, ammonia and uric acid, all things that are found in your sweat.
Mosquitoes find lactic acid incredibly attractive, and if you just worked out, chances are, that compound is building up in your muscles.
Plus, the exertion can lead to heavier breathing, and the bugs love all of that carbon dioxide that surrounds you.
That’s why, generally, mosquitoes are more attracted to larger people, they put out more CO2.
Mosquitoes actually follow carbon dioxide trails to their source, which is why some companies sell carbon dioxide lamps to attract and trap them.
While one sweaty person may make a more tempting meal for a mosquito than others, you’re a lot easier for the bugs to find when you’re emitting these compounds.
That means that hiking, running, or any type of exercise outdoors on a summer evening, especially when it’s humid or you’re near water, may not be the best idea.
And, whatever you do, when you’re camping or spending any time outside around this time when it’s warm, be sure to put on a fresh pair of clean socks, as evidenced in experiments with the use of a well-worn sock.
2. Darker Clothing
Research shows that mosquitoes are most attracted to darker colors.
They can see and use their vision to locate targets from a distance, and people wearing dark clothing are at higher risk.
The experts say mosquitoes rely on sight to find their targets, even at night, and that they can actually spot darker clothing easier.
That’s why most advise that you wear light color clothing around dusk if you’re going to be outside.
Scientists also recommend wearing clothing with a looser fit inside of tighter attire, in order to make it more difficult for them to bite you.
3. Beer & Other Alcohol
Have you ever noticed that when you’re enjoying a cold beer on a warm summer evening that mosquitoes are even more attracted to you?
It may not actually be the beer itself they’re attracted to, but the rise in body temperature that the alcohol causes, according to a small study conducted in 2002 out of the Department of Biodefence Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University in Sugitani, Japan.
Their research found that the insects were more likely to land on the volunteers that had recently guzzled down a beer.
Of course, any type of alcohol can increase body temperature, so it makes sense that whenever you plan on sipping any type of alcoholic beverage in the evening during the warmer months of the year, you should be sure to wear lighter clothing, as well as put on some type of repellent.
While slathering on a chemical spray is not the brightest idea for your health, there are numerous natural repellents that can be effective without that risk.
First, if you can, plan to enjoy the night around a fire, as the smoke deters the little critters.
You can also use peppermint essential oil.
Not only does it smell a whole lot better than chemicals like DEET, it acts as a highly effective natural insecticide to repel mosquitoes.
Research published in the Malaria Journal in March of 2011, confirmed the oil’s repellent action.
4. Salty & Sweet Foods
Certain foods that you eat can also make you more attractive to mosquitoes, like those avocado slices on top of your salad, and pickle relish on a brat.
The bugs can, unfortunately, smell salty snacks, delectable sweets, and other goodies on the skin, that make us even more delicious to them.
Eating a diet that’s high in sodium also increases the amount of lactic acid that the body produces, which means, if you spend the afternoon munching on foods like roasted peanuts or chips, you’re creating the ideal target for mosquitoes.
If you indulge in too many sweets like cakes, cookies or pies, and it has the same effect, as the insects love that sweet taste too.
As mosquitoes are attracted to lactic acid, and the amount released through your skin is increased when you eat potassium-rich foods like bananas, avocados, dried fruit, potatoes and lima beans, it’s best to avoid these foods when you plan on spending the evening outdoors.
There is something you can eat that will have the opposite effect, however. Garlic.
Just like vampires, these blood-sucking creatures hate the smell and the taste of it. So, when you know you’re going to be spending an extended amount of time outside, plan to consume lots of garlic beforehand.
The only downside is you might repulse some humans that you’d probably rather attract.
You can negate that affect, at least on your breath, by chewing a few parsley sprigs after eating a garlicky meal.
5. Perfume and Other Scented Items
These tiny pests are attracted to many different types of fragrances, including perfume, but they seem to really prefer floral scents.
That means that not only should you skip the perfume when heading outdoors in the summer, avoid any type of scented lotion.
Just keep in mind that when it comes to attracting those mosquito biters, the more neutral your skin, the better.
Mosquitoes also love bacteria, and we tend to have a lot of it that gathers on our skin. While we may not know it’s there, they certainly do.
While there isn’t a whole lot you can do to prevent that, being as clean as you can by washing up well before going outdoors can help your skin be less tasty to those biting bugs.
Research has shown that those who are pregnant tend to attract twice as many mosquitoes as women who aren’t.
That’s because pregnant women generally have a higher body temperature and they also exhale more carbon dioxide.
Of course, if you’re pregnant, there isn’t much you can do about that, other than making yourself less attractive to the insects in other ways, such as wearing lighter clothing and eating lots of garlic.
How To Keep Mosquitoes Away
While making yourself as unattractive to mosquitoes as possible is one way to prevent mosquito bites, keeping them away from you and your home and garden is an even more effective way.
We’ve covered a lot of methods of repelling mosquitoes and below you’ll find some of the best: