5 Ways to Help Prevent Mosquito Bites

July 05, 2016
A woman and her daughter riding a horse.

Mosquitoes have long been considered among the most annoying insects. With additional concerns about the West Nile Virus and the Zika Virus, finding ways to stop mosquitoes has become even more important.

Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale and our body heat. Once they get closer, mosquitoes will also respond to the smell of a potential blood source. Here are five ways to help keep the mosquitoes at bay this summer:

1. Use repellent

Most people turn to mosquito repellent, but it’s important to pick the right kind and to apply it often. The Centers for Disease Control recommends using repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol, because they provide longer-lasting protection. These products have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use as repellents when applied to skin and clothing.

Repellents containing permethrin should only be used on clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear. Permethrin is both a repellent and an insecticide, and it can also repel ticks.

2. Wear long sleeves and pants

Dusk to dawn is considered peak mosquito-biting times. If you’re outside during this time, wear a light long-sleeved shirt and long pants and spray your clothing with a repellent.

3. Clean up your yard

Removing standing water and trimming back hedges can go a long way in reducing the number of mosquitoes in your backyard. Remove any standing water from flower pots, buckets, pool covers, discarded tires and birdbaths. Regularly clean your rain gutters, and if you have a rain barrel, pour one-fourth of a cup of vegetable oil into the barrel weekly and after every storm, thus killing mosquito larvae.

It’s also important to trim shrubs and bushes, as well as to cut the grass, because when mosquitoes can’t find a blood source, they will feast on plant nectar.

4. Consider mosquito-repelling plants

There are several plants that naturally repel mosquitoes including catnip, lavender, marigolds, basil, peppermint, lemon balm, rosemary and garlic. Planting these near your patio or around your front and back door will help cut down on the number of mosquitoes.

5. Change your diet

Studies have shown that mosquitoes are more attracted to people with greater amounts of lactic acid being emitted through their skin. Certain foods, such as beer, potassium-rich foods, salty snacks and sweets, are known for increasing lactic acid. Avoid potassium-rich foods like bananas, potatoes, prunes, raisins, lima beans, avocados and spinach when you are going to be outdoors. Sodium increases the amount of lactic acid your body produces, too, so avoid eating chips, roasted peanuts and other salty snacks. Foods that repel mosquitoes are garlic and cider vinegar.

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