There are just some people mosquitoes prefer to bite more than others.
Sadly, I’m one of them.
In fact, 1 out of 10 people are “mosquito magnets.” Researchers discovered 85% is due to genetics, (thanks, mom). But, there are other factors to consider in the mosquito equation.
Studies have shown mosquitoes are attracted to people who produce high amounts of carbon dioxide. It’s like their version of catnip. In fact, mosquitoes can smell a “meal” up to 3/10 of a mile away! They tend to prefer adults and pregnant women because they emit more carbon dioxide than children. They also like heat and movement. You breathe heavier when you exert yourself, thereby emitting more appealing carbon dioxide.
Although a mosquito bite can make an annoying, itchy bump, it can also cause a serious illness like West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and Zika.
If you are a mosquito magnet like me, your best defense is to protect yourself.
- DEET has proven to be safe and effective since 1957. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that low concentrations of DEET (10% or less) are safe to use on infants over 2 months old.*
- Picaridin is an effective alternative to DEET. It is odorless and safe for children over 2 months old.
- Natural alternatives such as lemon eucalyptus products like Repel work, too, (and safe for children older than 3 years), but they do not work quite as well as the recommended concentrations of DEET or Picardin.
- Clothing treated the chemical insecticide permethrin works, too — especially for people who spend a lot of time outdoors or in the woods.
You can also try mosquito traps to attract and kill female mosquitoes, which are the ones that bite. There are many products on the market that use carbon dioxide, heat and/or moisture to draw and kill the females, which will lessen breeding and can significantly lower the overall mosquito population. (I personally use a Skeeter Vac for my yard).
- Avoid marshy, swampy areas
- Wear light-colored, long sleeve clothing if you’re going to be outside at dawn or dusk
- Eliminate breeding ground opportunities around your home by removing any standing water in garbage pails, plastic toys, or clogged gutters. (FYI: Birdbaths are notorious for breeding mosquitoes).
If you or your child exhibits flu-like symptoms for an extended period of time, stop in at any New England Urgent Care to be evaluated.