I live with someone who does not get bitten by mosquitos nearly as much as I do. I have been told that I have “sweet blood” and that is why they are more attracted to me than other people. While I am never one to turn down a compliment, I had to get to the bottom of this.
This is a bit Cliff Clavin but bear with me. My research taught me that only female mosquitos bite as they are looking for protein to lay eggs. There is no nutritional value in blood, their main diet consists of sugar from plants. This is where the misconception of “sweet blood” originated. The basic fact is, mosquitos like people who smell. They are attracted to a combination of body odour, skin bacteria, genes and especially your breath as it reflects your blood-sugar level. Another thing that attracts mosquitos is beer. Evidently, beer changes your body odour and these pesky bugs can’t get enough of it.
Mosquitos track you by the C02 that you exhale so when you are in a group there is more CO2 and you increase the target zone. They are also attracted to dark colours which is why scientists suggest wearing long-sleeved, light coloured clothing.
I remember my friends, who worked as tree planters, would load up on Avon’s Skin So Soft before heading out to the bush. I thought it was odd but mosquitos don’t like the smell. Avon also got a whiff of this and created Avon’s Bug Guard, their slogan is “loved by moms, not by bugs”. The modern day equivalent is Victoria Secrets’ Bombshell perfume. Who knew? If you are looking for a bug spray, experts recommend looking for ingredients such as oil of lemon eucalyptus, 2-undecanone, IR3535, picaridin and DEET.
If you don’t like sprays, there are a number of devices on the market that you can plug in, run on propane or wear on your belt. Most operate on the principal of a human emitting CO2. There are also a number of ultrasonic, lightbulb and app-based bug zappers that claim to work however, mosquitos are not attracted to light, sound or sticky tape so don’t waste your money.
I have experimented with a few and found that the best one to use on my boat is the ThermaCELL LED Lantern. It uses butane to warm a cartridge that is filled with allethrin, a synthetic version of the natural bug repellent found in chrysanthemums. It takes about 15 minutes to heat up but one cartridge lasts for 30 – 50 hours depending on the model (prices start at $29.99). They claim it protects up to a 15 X 15 foot area but, boaters beware, it does not work on a windy day. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever been bitten by a mosquito on a windy day? Even in my short-sleeved, dark clothing, drinking beer with my “sweet blood”.
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