Subscribe to participate in our raffle to win a free Workshop or Class experience.
Summertime calls most of us to spend time outdoors, but this means we must share our space with mosquitoes. Scientists say that about one in five people are especially appetizing targets for the little bloodsuckers... are you one of them?
Of the 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world, roughly 200 can be found in the US, which all differ in their persistence, biting habits, and ability to transmit disease.
Protecting yourself from mosquito bites not only prevents that horrid itching but can also lessen your chances of contracting several mosquito-borne illnesses, such as encephalitis, yellow fever, malaria, West Nile virus, or dengue. It is estimated that between one and two million people worldwide die each year from mosquito-borne illnesses, the most common being malaria.
Most commercial insect repellants contain a chemical called DEET, which should be used with caution, if at all. Many studies have found DEET to have harmful effects. Fortunately, there are plenty of tricks for keeping biting bugs at bay, and they don't involve applying toxic chemicals to your skin. There are also several natural remedies that can help take the sting out of your insect bites, should your preventative efforts fail.
Although the above video is highly informative, it is dangerously wrong at the end as it states that insect repellants with DEET are the only ones that work. That is simply untrue as there are many safer and effective alternatives, like the bug spray we have in our store.
Mosquitoes Plan Their Attack from Behind the 50-Yard-Line
Mosquitoes are attracted to a number of chemical compounds that they can detect from an impressive 50 yards away. The males are not interested in your blood, but the females are a different story, thirsting after the protein and iron in your blood to produce their eggs. At this point in our scientific knowledge base, we know that mosquitoes are attracted to the following:
- Bacteria: One trillion microbes live on your skin and create your body odor. Humans have only about 10 percent of these microbes in common—the rest vary between individuals. Some of us have a collection of microbes that are particularly irresistible to mosquitoes.
- Chemical compounds: When they are sniffing us out, mosquitoes home in on a wide variety of chemicals—277 were isolated as potential mosquito attractants from human hand odors in one 2000 study.
- Some of their favorites are lactic acid, ammonia, carboxylic acid, and octenol (present in human breath and sweat). Mosquitoes are especially drawn to carbon dioxide.
- The more you emit, the more attractive you are to them. Larger people naturally emit more carbon dioxide than smaller people, which is one of the reasons adults seem to be bitten more often than children.
- Movement and heat: Mosquitoes are drawn to both movement and heat. So if you're exercising outside on a warm summer evening, you're the perfect target—especially if you're short of breath!