How to Avoid a Mosquito Massacre This Summer

Adriana Velez

garlicAh summer, with its warm sunny arrival come the mosquitoes, my good friends. They seek me out wherever I go. I am very popular with them! It's like they are the paparazzi and I am Katy Perry. They just cannot get enough of me.

Anyone else here a mosquito magnet? Must be my chemistry. I hate spraying myself with DEET, and that soy-based Bite Blocker is so sticky. I keep wondering, is there something I could eat that would keep those bugs at bay? I know they're attracted to my smell, so if I could just smell like something else (like my husband, who never gets bit), maybe they would leave me alone?

Supposedly the one food mosquitoes hate is garlic. Many claim that eating garlic causes you to give off garlic fumes not just from your breath, but also from your pores. Usually what attracts the mosquitoes is carbon dioxide you breathe out and expel from you pores. So the logic goes that if you eat garlic, that scent will block your "eat me" scent and repel the little monsters.

Alas, scientists say this is bunk. No amount of garlic is going to repel mosquitoes -- unless you rub your skin with garlic juice. Even then garlic juice on your skin repels mosquitoes for just a few minutes. And don't you have better things to do than rub garlic juice all over yourself every 10 minutes? Don't bother with the vitamin B supplements, dryer sheets, or Listerine, either. They won't do zip for you.

On the other hand, apparently there is something you can ingest to bring the mosquitoes faster -- alcohol. That's right, guzzling beer at that backyard barbecue is like hanging an "open for business" sign all over your skin. I was very disappointed to learn this. I thought drinking outdoors in the evening was the whole point of summer. 

So what does work? The following are the most effective ways to ward off the little biters.


  • DEET. The smellier the better, but even "natural" bug sprays that contain lower levels of DEET are highly effective.
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus. If you don't like crop-dusting yourself with a toxic chemical try a bug spray with oil of lemon eucalyptus as the main active ingredient.
  • Bite Blocker. Made from a special soybean extract, this bug repellent is just as effective as DEET and is the #1 recommended repellent recommended by the New England Journal of Medicine.
  • Loose clothing. Dressing like a beekeeper -- in long, loose clothing -- is like wearing your own personal mosquito net. On the other hand, mosquitoes will bite through tight clothing.
  • Drain collected water. Check around your home for pools of standing water -- these are mosquitoes' favorite breeding grounds. Be sure to scrub around the sides of any containers that have collected water, too, which is where mosquitoes are most likely to lay their eggs.


Image via mullica/Flickr

Read More