Mosquito Myth vs. Fact: Food and Drink Edition
January 6, 2017
Before we get into debunking popular ideas, there are some basics about mosquitoes ‘preferences’ that you should know. In order to best understand why some foods have been associated with mosquitoes, you should know that there is extensive research indicating that mosquitoes are drawn towards heat and movement.
Other notable studies show that mosquitoes are attracted to...
excess uric acid on skin’s surface.
larger amounts of carbon dioxide exhaled, possibly while panting from exertion
lactic acid that is produced in sweat glands. To put that information into context, when you are working out, you are exerting yourself by increasing your body movement, which is causing you to
lactic acid that is produced in sweat glands. To put that information into context, when you are working out, you are exerting yourself by increasing your body movement, which is causing you to pant (and breathe out more carbon dioxide than usual) and to sweat (and produce lots of lactic acids)
Not to mention that all of these activities are generating lots of heat. The increased movement and heat will get the mosquitoes attention and draw them over to you, then the increased carbon dioxide and lactic acid from panting and sweating will make you more attractive to the mosquitoes.
Now that we know all that sciency type stuff, we can start myth busting!
Ingesting garlic will repel mosquitoes because of its pungent smell.
Myth, eating garlic will NOT work to repel mosquitoes. Garlic’s naturally pungent smell does indeed repel mosquitoes, but for it to work you would have to squeeze it onto your skin, even then it will protect only that specific area of skin and it will only last for about 20 to 40 minutes. Is it really worth it?
Bananas will make you more attractive to mosquitoes.
Myth, the banana theory comes from varying ideas and observations. Some scientists focus on the chemical reactions, explaining the idea that potassium found naturally in bananas will ever-so-slightly increase your body temperature, and that extra bit of heat that you give off after ingesting a banana will make you just slightly more enticing to mosquitoes.
Other proponents of this theory explain that the sugars found in the banana itself are what attract the mosquitoes to bananas or to people that are actively eating the banana. Furthermore, there are some who think that those mosquito-attracting sugars can also be found in most common fruits and that mosquitoes may just be drawn to fruits in general.
Neither of these explanations has been proven or supported by scientific data or research. Even though there is no solid evidence to support the banana theory, technically it has not been disproven yet. The very few studies that were done on this theory revealed inconclusive results. Taking this all into consideration, as of right now, the banana theory in an MYTH and bananas do NOT make you more attractive to mosquitoes. However, no one can know what future research may reveal.
Drinking Beer makes you more enticing to mosquitoes.
Fact, have you ever noticed that you feel a little bit warmer after you have had a couple of beers? Scientists definitely noticed. They noticed it and then researched it and then found some possible correlations between “the consumption of alcohol” and “the preferences of mosquitoes”. While the research is still in the works, word of the possible connection between alcohol and mosquito bites has spread through the scientific grapevine. Now there are quite a few independent experiments being done to test this possible connection. Even though they are not nearly finished researching, it seems that they are confident that there is a correlation between drinking beer and mosquito bites. Here’s why:
Remember how we talked about mosquitoes being drawn to increased heat and attracted to the lactic acid produced when you sweat? When drinking a beer or any alcohol beverage, your blood vessels begin to dilate and move closer to the surface of your skin, which makes your body feel like it is getting warmer. Your body’s natural reaction is to regulate your body temperature with sweat. Now that you are sweating, you are producing lots of lactic acids, which is what makes you more enticing to mosquitoes. Long story short, drinking beer makes you sweat more and mosquitoes really like it when you sweat! Plus, your blood is easier to get to since the dilation moves it closer to the skin, a hidden perk for the mosquitoes!
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