If you live in the south or midwest—or even Big Sky Country—you are probably more than aware that it’s mosquito season. I don’t use the words “hate” or “evil” lightly, so believe me when I say—I hate these evil bugs.
Irritating mosquito bites are the WORST during the summertime. It’s bad enough that they make you itch, but they also carry disease-causing viruses and bacteria. They are literally the world’s deadliest animal. And that’s just not something I want to worry about when I’m trying to enjoy the outdoors.
I’m one of those people who have a special superpower when it comes to attracting mosquitoes. And I’ve always wondered why some people have this same condition, while others seem to live mosquito-free during the summer.
As it turns out, mosquito attraction might not be an affliction we are born with. We might be doing this to ourselves without even knowing it.
Getting Eaten Alive? This Might Be Why
Mosquitoes spread disease by seeking out and feeding on hosts, and they locate these hosts through different sensory cues. Things like body temperature and the carbon dioxide emitted from breath play a role, as do certain odors.
A recently published study in Science Direct found that one specific chemical has a scent that attracts mosquitoes more than others—acetophenone. This can lead to more bites, which allows mosquito-borne diseases to spread. Or at the very least, irritate you and cause itchy skin.
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Acetophenone is a naturally occurring fragrant substance with a sweet, floral scent that is found in a number of perfumes. According to the Fragrance Conservatory, “different industries and manufacturers may use different names for the same ingredient.”
You can find acetophenone on labels with names like acetylbenzol, ethanone, and 1-phenylethanone. But no matter what name this perfume ingredient goes by, it’s going to attract mosquitoes.
How To Make Yourself Less Tasty
To keep the mosquitoes away, ditch perfumes containing acetophenone and look for products with all-natural fragrances and essential oils.
If you are trying to protect more than yourself and enjoy your backyard with others sans mosquito invasion, try adding a large fan to your outdoor area. Mosquitoes’ wings are no match for strong winds, so they will find it difficult to fly near you.
Another great hack is to grate a bar of soap and use the soap pieces to create a barrier around the fire pit or wherever you are hanging out in the backyard. This isn’t a scientifically proven fix, but there’s anecdotal evidence that it works.