5 Ways You're Becoming a Mosquito Magnet, Experts Warn
Avoid these mistakes if you don't want to make yourself a target for mosquitoes.
If you've been swatting away mosquitoes like crazy recently, you're hardly alone. Summer is the peak season for this pesky pest—and this year, there's added cause for concern, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just discovered the first locally acquired cases of malaria in the U.S. in 20 years. But you don't have to lay in wait worrying if virus-ridden mosquitoes are going to find you. There are things you can do to keep these bloodsuckers away, including knowing all the ways you're attracting them. Read on to discover five things that are making you a mosquito magnet.
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You're wearing certain colors.
Your clothing choices are more important than you might realize if you're looking to avoid mosquitoes. When you stick to lighter shades and cooler colors like green, blue, and purple, you're less likely to become a target for bites, according to Charles van Rees, PhD, a conservation scientist and naturalist.
"Tests on mosquito vision have shown that they are more attracted to darker colors and those more on the red side of the spectrum," Rees says.
With that in mind, avoid choosing black clothes, or anything that is a highly saturated red or orange color.
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You're drinking beer.
Sure, summer calls for outdoor barbecues and parties—and you may be tempted to down a couple of bottles with the boys during these gatherings. But doing so can make you a total mosquito magnet, according to Roger May, PhD, a pest expert and the director of technical operations for TruGreen.
"Fermented beverages cause one's capillaries to expand, sending more blood to the skin's surface and making it heat up," he explains. "This inherently produces more sweat, carbon dioxide, and lactic acid—all of which mosquitoes are attracted to."
In order to avoid this, May advises switching up your drink preferences while hanging outdoors this summer. "Consider substituting an IPA for a non-alcoholic, sugar-free beverage to be less attractive to mosquitoes," he suggests.
You're using certain personal care products.
Your hygiene routine could be hurting you as well when it comes to attracting mosquitoes. As A.H. David, a mosquito expert and founder of Pest Control Weekly, tells Best Life, this pest may be pulled toward specific fragrances in your soaps, shampoos, lotions, and hair products.
"Mosquitoes have a keen sense of smell and are drawn to floral or fruity scents, which often come from personal care products," David says. "When planning to spend time outdoors, opt for fragrance-free products. Using bug spray or a topical insect repellent can help mask these scents."
You're exercising outdoors.
Heat plays a major factor in mosquito feeding, as these pests can "detect heat signatures from three feet away using their super senses," says Shannon Harlow-Ellis, an associate certified entomologist and technical specialist for Mosquito Joe.
So while you may be tempted to work out, you're much better off when you "work-in," Harlow-Ellis says.
"Exercising outdoors creates many signals for mosquitoes, including intense body heat coupled with sweat and increased CO2 from heavy breathing," she explains.
This is especially important to remember if you're trying to exercise outside when the sun isn't as strong to avoid the heat. As Emma Grace Crumbley, an entomologist at Mosquito Squad, shares, mosquitoes are crepuscular creatures, "meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk."
You should actually avoid going out during these times of day—especially to exercise, Crumbley says.
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You're spending time near water.
Water-based activities are very attractive during the summer—and not just for humans, it seems. As semiaquatic insects, mosquitoes lay their eggs in bodies of water, according to Crumbley. Researchers have determined that only a small amount of standing water is needed to attract a mosquito, she notes.
"So if your garden has puddles or over watered plants, if you do activities near ponds or lakes, or if you have a bird bath or pet bowl right next to your favorite porch reading chair, you are far more likely to encounter a mosquito," Crumbley warns.