Are you the type of person who gets eaten alive by mosquitoes all summer long, while your friends show nary a nibble the entire season?
Mosquito bites are painful, itchy and annoying – and they can also transmit nasty diseases like malaria and dengue fever. There are numerous bug repellants on the market, from candles and bracelets to lotions and sprays – but they can often contain harsh chemicals like DEET. Even natural bug repellants can irritate your respiratory system and skin. You can hide indoors all season long, grin and bear the bites, or try to make yourself less tasty to mosquitoes.
Genetics affect your mosquito appeal, but so does what you consume. Humans eat and drink different things, and they taste differently to mosquitoes. Just like wearing a sweet-smelling perfume in the forest attracts insects into your personal space, consuming certain food and beverages increases your appeal to mosquitoes. Perhaps on the buffet of humans that the mosquitoes are casing, you are the king crab legs and everyone else is macaroni and cheese.
Make yourself taste horrible to these pesky little insects by avoiding the following foods and beverages.
1. Beer: Recent studies show that beer drinkers are much more attractive to mosquitoes, even if they’ve just had one 12-ounce can. Scientists don’t exactly know why the bugs prefer the beer drinkers, because it doesn’t seem to be the increase ethanol in the bloodstream or the heightened body temperature. Maybe they just like the taste.
2. Potassium-rich foods: Mosquitoes are attracted to lactic acid, which is naturally released by your body at all times. Eating potassium-rich foods like bananas, potatoes, prunes, raisins, lima beans, avocadoes and spinach increases the amount of lactic acid you off-gas through your skin. Skip these foods if you are spending the day outdoors and worried about mosquitoes.
3. Salty Snacks: Eating a high-sodium diet also increases the amount of lactic acid that your body produces. If you spend the afternoon munching on chips, roasted peanuts or crackers, you’re offering the mosquitoes a salty target that they’re sure to love.
4: Sweets: Candy, cakes and pies have a sweet aroma that is very attractive for all animals – humans, dogs and mosquitoes. Indulge in too many sweets, and you’ll make yourself a magnet for the bugs.
What to eat instead
1. Garlic: Just like vampires, these blood-sucking varmints hate the smell and taste of garlic. Instead of beer, potassium-rich foods and salty snacks, try a big dose of garlic before you spend any extended time outdoors. While not as effective as DEET, garlic works whether you hang a string of bulbs on your back porch, eat a plate of garlic pasta for lunch or take a nutritional supplement. The smell of garlic on your body repels mosquitoes, but take care – because it might also repulse humans that you would rather attract.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar: Along with numerous health properties touted by many old-timers, cider vinegar also may ward off mosquitoes when consumed regularly.
Image: James Jordan