Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My sweat smells good... mosquitoes. That's because I emit a wonderful proportion of carbon dioxide, octenol, nonanal (I prefer to put the accent on the first syllable), and other compounds. Yes, a large part of the mosquito's sense of smell is devoted to human targets like me. In fact, of the 72 types of odor receptors on the antennae of mosquitoes, 27 detect chemicals in human perspiration.

Some other facts about mosquitoes...

  • They are vector agents for not only malaria, but yellow fever, dengue fever (which a friend of a friend is now recovering from), and chikungunya. Now, I don't know if you know what that is, but I bet it's something you could probably do without.

  • You may have heard that bats and purple martins devour mosquitoes, but actually only about 1% of the diets of these winged friends consist of mosquitoes.

  • There are all kinds of breeding grounds for mosquitoes in your backyard - consider the more hidden places that may collect pools of stagnant water - a dip in a bag of mulch, kids' toys, a shovel left out, a watering can, a wheelbarrow, etc.

  • We know DEET is a great repellent, but also that it's dangerous. There are all sorts of recipes for repellents out there, but the compound in catnip essential oil has been found to be 10 times more effective than DEET (and your cat may put on a good show if you wear it)! Do you have a recipe that works? I want to hear from you especially if you typically get mosquito bites but have an effective repellent!

  • A mosquito not only sucks your blood, but actually injects you with saliva first. The saliva contains a sort of anti-coagulant that keeps its horrid proboscis from being clogged with blood clots.

This is all bad news for me because I happen to be highly sensitive to insect bites. A single bite will often swell up, and itch intensely for several days. What I can confirm for you though, is that as you may have seen on My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Windex does work to relieve the itch! Maybe it's because the burn of the chemical offers relief from the itch!

Once, a mosquito made its way up my pant leg and I ended up with a zig zag of 6 bites from ankle to butt cheek. Imagine what happens when the butt bite starts itching during a meeting at work. So now I tuck my pant legs into my socks (it's not a great look). Another time, I must have been bent over doing something and got 4 bites around my waist. After this, I began to cover any exposed skin with bug spray. Thinking that the bug spray would prevent the usual bites on my legs and arms, I then got a bite on my eyelid. My eye was swollen for 2 days.

This all brings me to the motivation for this post. Yesterday, a mosquito was in our bedroom. I was brushing my teeth and heard a loud SLAP. Then my husband said, "Sorry buddy, I didn't want to kill you".

I felt no compassion for the dead mosquito.


  1. Avon 'Skin-So-Soft' really does work. We were hiking in Central Oregon, where the mosquitos drove us to the car. We couldn't get inside fast enough, so a great swarm of them were inside the car with us. The sound alone is enough to drive you nuts, but at the end of the day we had NO BITES.

  2. This is a really informative post. I read sometime ago that some of us give off an odor that repel mosquitoes which is why they don't sting some people and sting others.

  3. We will be fined (can't remember how much now) if the authority found mosquitoes breeding in our house. Mosquitoes breed very fast here especially after prolonged rain. We have to be vigilant to clear any stagnant pools of water. Dengue fever is still common here and deaths from mosquito-borne virus is on the rise! Thanks for the warnings.

  4. Hi WEndy..excellent post! I hear ya..we are the same..i am very sensitive too and really swell is no fun! I eat lots of make my skin sour..they hate garlic..but somehow I think I'll alwyas be sweet!

  5. My oldest daughter has the same mosquito attraction that you have. The very first time she got a bite as a baby sent me phoning the doctor. I never saw anything swell up like that. I thought it was infected.

    We all were in Vegas once, sitting at a table with a long tablecloth. She ended up with 7 bites...and the rest of us zero.

    Unfortunately, both her sons have the same problem. Ryan is currently covered in bites.

    So I feel for you and completely understand you lack of compassion.

  6. It's good you posted that Wendy, those who read it will be warned. I am also attractive to mosquitos that in some places sometimes people notice that they swarm over me but not the one next to me. Good i don't have that extreme allergies like you, i just itch a bit and that's all. However, my niece is like you, and not only to mosquitoes but to all insects. My nephew also had dengue when he was 6yrs old and we were so tense, we had to bring him to the big city for treatment. Rainy season is approaching and we will be afraif of them again.

  7. Hi Wendy~~ Catnip oil. Interesting. I have the Avon SSS but the scent is pretty pungent. Thankfully there isn't much residual when I get bitten. Hubby and kids, that's another story.

  8. You know, I have a friend who is a mosquito magnet, too. If we go to a picnic, of everyone there, she'll wind up with the most mosquito bites. I don't have a formula for repellent, but I do keep a citronella candle on my balcony for those days after a rain when the pesky insects flock to my garden... Good luck!

  9. I heard that lemongrass repels mosquitoes. This is a very informative post. I plan on visiting Asian this summer so this is definitely something I need to know about mosquitoes.

  10. Yeah, the mosquito (and gnat) bites are pretty bad if you're sensitive to them. I'm talking welts that often get infected. My daughter got one on her ankle once and couldn't walk due to the swelling!

    I bought a bottle of SSS and slathered it on myself and both girls, and I can't remember if it did anythning to repel the mosquitoes...because we all broke out in a rash from the SSS! grrr. can't win.

  11. I love this post. Educational and funny -- great combination! Mosquitoes are often a problem here in Texas, and we do the garlic trick, too. We've noticed that mosquitoes are particularly drawn to my husband and older son, who have warmer body temps and slightly darker skin. I and my younger son are more fair-skinned with slightly cooler temps. It seems to make a difference, and the mosquitoes will target my husband and older son before ever landing on me. If they are not around, then the mosquitoes will then check me out. Also, they are more attracted to darker clothes than whiter clothes. Every little tip helps!

  12. I'm a mosquito magnet too. I've had some success with Fresh Sugar Lemon lotion as a repellent. And I just read on another blog that Tiger Balm works on bites. I'm buying some soon to test that idea.


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