Don't be the Main "Mosquito" Attraction

by Deborah Taylor-Hough


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One of the best ways to keep mosquitoes from getting the bite on you is to avoid being the main attraction at your local mosquito theme park in the first place. Understanding a bit about mosquito behavior can help avoid calling unnecessary attention to yourself.

Mosquitoes identify their targets by sight, heat and smell. Avoid physically active movement (exercise, ball games, yard work, etc.) during peak mosquito hours to keep them from noticing you from a distance.

Peak mosquito times tend to be right around dusk and dawn. Reduce outside lights in the evening hours (use yellow bulbs, if possible).

Wear light colors during the daytime, as dark clothing during daylight hours actually attracts the little buggers. According to one report, mosquitoes prefer blue and green so you're better off wearing yellows, reds and oranges.

Mosquitoes are attracted to perspiration, heat, carbon dioxide, and lactic acid. All of these are produced after exercising, so avoid outdoor exercise during peak mosquito hours (at dawn and dusk). Our bodies also release lactic acid after eating certain foods, so avoiding outdoor dining during those hours is helpful, as well. Commonly believed mosquito-attracting foods include bananas (or other potassium-rich food items), and salty foods.

Avoid perfumes when outside. Using hand creams and lotions with a sweet scent can also increase your risk of attracting mosquitoes, so go for the unscented varieties during mosquito season. Try using unscented soaps when showering, too. Even though they're rinsed off, the scent remains on your skin and attracts bugs.

Keeping a barrier between yourself and mosquitoes is a simple and natural way to avoid bites. Be sure to wear long sleeves and long pants when outdoors at dusk, or in areas with an especially high concentration of mosquitoes (woods, swamps, hiking trails). And use screens in all your home's doors and windows during summer months.

Several gardeners assured me that planting marigolds, scented geraniums (rub the leaves on your skin too), rosemary, catnip, peppermint, spearmint, daisies, verbena, spike lavender (not the sweet French variety), basil, thyme, garlic, allspice, cedar, and lemon grass around the yard naturally repels insects. Decorating with eucalyptus is also rumored to be helpful. You can make your own insect-repelling sachets by drying the flowers and leaves from the above plants and placing them into small, hand-sewn cotton bags.

Eliminate their Breeding Grounds

The first step in avoiding the bite is to eliminate the local mosquito population at its source. Mosquitoes use stagnant water for their breeding grounds, so drain any collections of stagnant water found in your yard, neighborhood or workplace.

Also keep your eye out for these sources of standing water: Discarded tires, roof gutters clogged with leaves or other debris, rain barrels, wading pools, drainage ditches, paint buckets, tin cans, paper cups or other discarded trash, trash containers, infrequently used yard equipment, plant containers, bird baths, broken toys, pet water bowls, and holes in tree stumps.

If your kids want to play in their wading pool, be sure to dump the water out at least once a week and turn the pool upside down when not in use so rain doesn't collect in it. And if you want to keep your birdbath and pet's outdoor watering bowl, be sure to clean out the water at least two times each week. If you have an outdoor fish pond with goldfish or amphibians, the fish will eat the mosquito larva so you won't need to drain the fish pond.

For tips on natural and homemade mosquito repellents, send a blank email to: shoofly@sendfree.com


Deborah Taylor-Hough is the author of the bestselling Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month and A Simple Choice: a practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity. She also edits the Simple Times email newsletter. To subscribe, visit Debi online at: thesimplemom.wordpress.com

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