Summer is in full swing, and our favorite season brings with it outdoor parties, weekend picnics, days at the beach, and, less excitingly, hoards of pesky mosquitos. Sometimes it can seem as if those mosquitos feast even more than we do during our summer gatherings: They are drawn to the smells of barbecue, so are always around, irritating us, when we're trying to make the most of these warm evenings. Sure, we have the grilled burgers, peach cobbler, and tasty frozen margaritas to enjoy, but they have an all-you-can-eat buffet: us.
These irritating creatures come to get us when we least expect it, like when the sun is setting and the party is either winding down or turning up. Their bites initially are imperceptible, especially while we are distracted, indulging in another ice cold cocktail. But all of a sudden, you can feel the itchy bite — a red welt rises on your ankle and it’s all you can do to resist a scratching frenzy. And mosquitos can be a lot more than irritating party pests, they can also be carriers of diseases like malaria, dengue fever and West Nile virus.
There are a variety of reasons why certain people are more attractive to mosquitos than others. These biting insects have an acute sense of smell, but they also rely on carbon dioxide signatures, which means they tend to flock to larger people or pregnant women. Genetics are also important: Studies have shown that mosquitos definitely prefer people with type O blood. Body heat, movement or exercise, and sweat also draw them to particular bodies. Dark colors and fragrances can also encourage mosquitos to come your way.
Diet is also an important mosquito-attracting factor. Some of the foods we eat, like the avocadoes atop your summer salad, and pickle relish on your brat, make us much tastier to mosquitos, while other foods such as onions and garlic, repel them. The critters can, unfortunately, smell salty snacks, sumptuous sweets, and other goodies on our skin, all of which make us much more delicious to them. Read on to find out what foods to resist to help avoid the biting bugs this summer.
This post was originally published on July 3, 2014.