It’s been a question I’ve pondered since I can remember.
There never seemed to be an adequate answer.
It’s a little late in the season, but here goes: Why do mosquitoes seem to feast on some people while totally ignoring others? Also, how can mosquitoes spot us from 50 yards away?
Well, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola, he believes there are many answers. Some of the reasons include microbes (bacteria) on your skin from body odor.
Mercola writes, “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.”
Another reason is chemical compounds. Among the favorites are octenol from human breath and sweat, lactic acid, ammonia, carboxylic acid and carbon dioxide we emit. Mercola says the more we emit, the more attractive we are to mosquitoes. He explains larger people emit more than smaller people, which is why adults generally, seem to provide a better host than children.
Another attraction is movement and heat. If you are exercising outside and short of breath, you are emitting more carbon dioxide, and thus, a target.
Mercola explains that it was once believed mosquitoes were attracted to human sweat but there’s a hitch to that theory. They are actually attracted to old sweat, not fresh sweat. Chemical changes in old sweat changes its pH from acidic to alkaline as various components decompose into ammonia. Mercola refers to this sweat as ‘fermented.’ The study he wrote of also stated malarial mosquitoes were more attracted to foot odor and that the malarial mosquitoes actually bit into old heavily worn socks the researchers hung outdoors. So keep those socks clean!
The good news is that some human odors have confounded mosquitoes and lessened their ability to locate humans. These compounds are secreted by our bodies. There is a question as to B-vitamins helping to emit an odor mosquitoes don’t care for.
Mercola states, “One of these compounds is 1-methylpiperzine, which blocks mosquitoes’ sense of smell so effectively that they are rendered oblivious to the presence of a juicy human hand nearby. Insect sprays containing 1-methylpiperzine are in the works, but thus far scientists have not been able to determine how to keep the substance from evaporating off of your skin, as naturally occurs over time.”
Certain of us seem to secrete more natural substances than others that make us invisible to mosquitoes.
Mercola warns that we must steer clear of chemical repellants. He feels the very dangerous, DEET is used in hundreds of products in very high concentrations up to 100 percent.
In speaking of DEET, he warns, “If a chemical melts plastic or fishing line, it’s not wise to apply it to your skin—and that is exactly what DEET does. Children are particularly at risk for subtle neurological changes because their skin more readily absorbs chemicals in the environment, and chemicals exert more potent effects on their developing nervous systems.” He explained DEET can cause headaches, shortness of breath, tremors, seizures, and many other dangerous and toxic side-effects. The fact is, it’s a pesticide.
There are many great natural products on the market that can help repel mosquitoes. My favorite is Buzz Away, which is made with citronella, cedarwood, Eucalyptus, lemon grass and peppermint. It has done the trick for us.
The time of day most mosquitoes strike is after dusk and they like dark clothing. So if you are able to avoid the outdoors during that time, great, if not, try something natural. If readers have any other substances they find help, I’d be interested.
Dee Woods can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.