How to avoid being a mosquito magnet

How to avoid being a mosquito magnet

It’s summer, the weather’s warm, the days are long, and the bugs are biting.  And one bug in particular has a grand time of making us swat, slap, and scratch ourselves silly when confronted – mosquitos.  Mosquitos have a way of making even the best of summer days turn sour ruining a backyard BBQ or a hike in the woods. 

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Besides being a nuisance, mosquitoes are carriers, or vectors, of some of world’s most deadly illnesses, and are public enemy number one in fighting against global infectious disease.  Each year, mosquito-borne diseases cause millions of deaths worldwide primarily effecting children and the elderly in developing countries.  Mosquitos carry dangerous diseases like West Nile Virus, malaria, encephalitis, yellow fever, dengue, and most recently, Zika virus.

While it may be unrealistic to avoid all mosquito bites, there are several steps you can take to make a huge dent in preventing these flying nuisances from setting their sights on you:

1.  Time your outings

Mosquitos have their preferred time for buzzing around and the time to stay indoors avoiding meeting up with them is during dusk and dawn.  That’s when many breeds of mosquitos are at their peak biting time.

2.  Avoid smelling nice

Wearing perfume or cologne will attract mosquitos looking for sweet nectar from a flower.  These insects will pick up on strong sweet-smelling odors and will want to land on you thinking you’re a flower.

3.  Avoid looking like a flower when outdoors

Wear white and you greatly reduce attracting mosquitos.  Wearing dark or brightly colored clothing, similar to a brightly colored flower, will attract mosquitos to you.  When outdoors keep your clothing neutral by wearing khaki, white, beige, or other light colored clothing.

4.  Steer clear of beer

It remains a mystery but for whatever reason, mosquitos have a preference of biting beer drinkers over those who drink wine.  Researchers suspect that perhaps mosquitos like the increased ethanol excreted in sweat or that alcohol increases body temperature but it’s not completely understood.  Your best bet is if to drink your brew indoors.

5.  Remove sources of standing water

Female mosquitos prefer to lay eggs in water that collects or is stored in manmade containers. The eggs they lay will stick to containers like glue and remain attached until they are scrubbed off.  If they are not removed, when it rains or water covers the eggs, they hatch and become adults in about a week.  To prevent mosquitos from living and breeding around your home, once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out containers that hold water such as vases, pet water bowls, flowerpot saucers, buckets, discarded tires, kiddie pools, birdbaths, trash cans, and rain barrels.

6.  Clothing strategies

If you do go for a walk in the woods or spend time in your backyard, be strategic in making it as difficult as possible for mosquitos to attack.  One of the best ways is to wear long-sleeved pants and shirts to slow down mosquitos from biting.

7.  Use insect repellant

Using an insect repellent is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from Zika and other disease transmitted by mosquitos. 

According to Consumer Reports, the most effective products in preventing bites from mosquitos were those that contained 15 to 30 percent deet, 20 percent picaridin, or 30 percent OLE.  Some people prefer using products made with natural plant oils such as citronella, lemongrass oil, cedar oil, and other ingredients.  However, these products did not perform well in testing by Consumer Reports labs.  The CDC recommends using EPA-registered insect repellants. To know if a mosquito repellent is registered by the EPA, look for its registration number (“EPA Reg.”) on the back of the label.