Mosquito Appeal

Mosquito Appeal

What you wear, what you drink may matter

Making Ripples

Mosquitoes are out and active now, making many people wonder how to avoid becoming their prey (and why, out of all their options, they choose to bite you). Get out your inner nerd and read on to learn about ways to avoid and repel nature’s marvelous and monstrous mosquito!

Some things in life just can’t be controlled. For instance, people who have type O blood, myself included, are universal donors — and that includes donating to mosquitoes. A study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology showed that mosquitoes landed on those with type O blood 83 percent of the time but only bit those with type A blood about 46 percent of the time. Some of us are just born tastier. However, there are many factors within our control.

Avoid going outside when mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. Mosquitoes are less active when temperatures get below about 60 or on dry, hot, sunny days. Wind just blows them away (think of Piglet in “Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day”).

Wind makes it harder for them to find hosts if wind speed is 10mph or greater. You can simulate “windy” conditions by placing a fan outside near you. Like Eeyore, mosquitoes prefer rainy, cloudy days when they won’t get overheated or dehydrated. High humidity means high activity!

For reasons yet unclear, the mosquito has a favorite color: black. Don’t wear black or very dark clothing, or you may attract more mosquitoes than if you had been wearing light colors. Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, explains that because mosquitoes locate their prey by looking for movement and visual cues, avoid standing out. Dark colors like black, navy blue or red are more noticeable.

Drinking beer while wearing black is doubly bad. Smithsonian Magazine says that drinking even one 12-ounce can of beer may make mosquitoes like you more, but it’s still a mystery as to why. According to The New York Times, alcohol is (thus far) the only consumable shown to attract mosquitoes, and no foods seem to deter them. Eating lots of garlic may repel vampires, but there is no scientific evidence that it repels mosquitoes.

Ironically, only female mosquitoes will bite humans, and some species of mosquitoes prefer pregnant women over non-pregnant women (possibly due to increased body temperature and exhalation of carbon dioxide, two factors that make some people more attractive to mosquitoes).

However, larger people are more attractive than smaller people, and that tends to mean that men get bitten more often than women overall. Female mosquitoes require a blood meal to produce their eggs, whereas males feed on nectar — well, mostly. Females also feed on nectar, and males can also feed on blood, and their diets vary depending on species, but males lack the anatomy for piercing our skin.

A 2016 journal article published in Frontiers of Physiology noted that blood is toxic to male mosquitoes and will kill them in a few days, but they still prefer feeding on blood compared to plants (as long as they don’t have to bite).

Some scents that repel mosquitoes include citrus, rosemary, citronella and oil of lemon eucalyptus. Lemongrass repels mosquitoes because it contains citronella, which is a natural oil that repels insects and is often used in outdoor candles. You might also try an environmentally-friendly bug spray such as Buzz Away Extreme: DEET Free.

Armed with these tips, I hope you have a more fun, less itchy summer in the natural state!

Amanda Bancroft is a writer, artist, and naturalist living in an off-grid tiny house on Kessler Mountain. She and her husband Ryan blog about their adventures and offer tips to those wanting to make a difference at

Categories: Making Ripples