Chuck, I can’t believe that it’s August and the nation is still swarming with mosquitoes. Any natural ways to repel those pesky pokers? – Barbara A., Colorado
Mosquitoes continue to be a very big health issue across the country.
Here is one more small sampling from last week’s news:
- “Officials find West Nile in Milwaukee mosquitoes.”
- “Fort Collins (Colorado) to spray for mosquitoes.”
- “Aerial spraying planned for Oswego County (New York) after mosquitoes test positive for … West Nile Virus.”
- “Plano (Texas) finds a second mosquito that tested positive for West Nile.”
With continued heavy downpours and hot weather across the country, experts are saying these trends may continue into the fall.
In Part 1, I discussed some grounds for justifying the use of repellent (on clothing) with no more than 50 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children – mostly because mosquitoes can carry diseases such as the West Nile virus and more of them are being found across the U.S.
Rob Dunn, a biologist at North Carolina State University, recently wrote this in his Scientific American article about the global threat of mosquitoes: “Mosquitoes are one of the most deadly groups of organisms on Earth, more deadly than tigers, snakes or even other humans. Mosquitoes kill by proxy. They transmit pathogens such as dengue, yellow fever and, that real devil among demons, big daddy malaria.” (As many as 500 million cases of malaria are contracted globally each year.)
Enough bad news.
Before I discuss some natural ways to ward off mosquitoes, let me talk about why some people attract mosquitoes more than others.
A few weeks ago, Lisa Collier Cool at Yahoo Health highlighted the reasons some people are mosquito magnets:
- According to a Japanese study, mosquitoes are roughly twice as likely to be attracted to people with Type O blood as they are to those with Type A.
- According to a study published in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, drinking even a single beer can increase your mosquito magnetism.
- Mosquitoes have a foot fetish, especially for dirty ones. One test had 75 percent flocking toward unwashed feet. The Smithsonian magazine hypothesized that mosquitoes are especially prone to biting our ankles and feet because “they naturally have more robust bacteria colonies.”
- According to a study conducted in Gambia, pregnant women are twice as likely to be bitten by mosquitoes as men are. Researchers speculate the reason is that pregnant women increase their breathing by 21 percent. In doing so, they exhale more carbon dioxide – an attractant to mosquitoes. (They can detect carbon dioxide from 164 feet away.)
- Similarly, those who run or exercise are greater attractants to mosquitoes because their increased sweat, lactic acid and breathing are a lure to the flying bloodsuckers.
- According to the American Mosquito Control Association, mosquitoes are 500 times more active when the moon is full, peaking at dusk and dawn.
- Mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing. The darker the more alluring. Researchers categorized clothing colors’ appeal to mosquitoes in this way: “black (most attractive); red (very attractive); grey and blue (neutral); khaki, green, light khaki, and yellow (less attractive).” Dark colors might look classy on the town, but they are also contagious to female mosquitoes. (Males don’t bite.)
University of Florida entomology professor Phil Koehler concludes: “Both your metabolism and your unique body chemistry – which is as distinctive as a fingerprint – play an important role in determining whether or not you’re a mosquito magnet. Also, there’s evidence that your degree of attractiveness to mosquitoes can change over time.”
So here’s what you can do naturally to ward off those vampire insects at any point in your life, and it starts with minimizing the attractants mentioned above when you can:
- Wear long, loose and light-colored clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.
- Wear socks and shoes at night to cover your feet.
- Avoid beer consumption, especially at night outdoors.
- Avoid outdoor activity at night that would increase your breathing or sweating.
- If you see a full moon, consider enjoying an alternative indoor activity.
In addition to those anti-mosquito measures, you might try adding these novel repellents to your yard or porch, according to Fox News Magazine: herbs such as basil, lemon grass and rosemary; marigolds; tea tree oil; catnip; garlic; bats; and frogs.
Though not a super-powerful detractor, eating garlic, according to Colorado State University researchers, also might help keep mosquitoes off your skin. Of course, the downside is that it might ward off females of another species, too!
Write to Chuck Norris with your questions about health and fitness. Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook’s “Official Chuck Norris Page.” He blogs at ChuckNorrisNews.blogspot.com.