5 Natural Ways to beat the bite
Mosquitoes are annoying, disease carrying MONSTERS, and yet, they are a critical part of our ecosystem, providing an essential foodsource, aid in medical research, a measure of environmental health and even pollination - who knew?
So we gotta find ways to co-exist with these obnoxious neighbours.
And I happen to be an expert because I spent years guiding canoe trips - as far north as the arctic - where mosquitoes literally form black clouds of frustration. We tried everything, including building a tolerance by sitting naked in the hoard (I think 5min was the record).
Having grown up with this ‘tough it out’ mentality, I am not so empathetic when Mandy shuts down our night on a Toronto patio because ‘THE MOSQUITOES ARE SOOOO BAD’.
There are like 2 mosquitoes out here. But she SWEARS they are more attracted to her than me. Turns out, she may have had a point, here’s why:
- Genetics at Play: certain genetic factors influence the odor profile of our skin, making some individuals more appealing to these persistent bloodsuckers.
- Metabolic Magic: Individuals who have a higher metabolic rate and produce more heat and carbon dioxide tend to be more attractive to these buzzing pests.
- Lactic Acid Lure: Mosquitoes have a fondness for lactic acid, a substance produced by our bodies during physical exertion. So, don't be surprised if you're more sought after by mosquitoes after a run or bike.
- Beware of Beer: As if we needed another reason to be cautious with alcohol, it turns out that mosquitoes find the scent of beer particularly enticing.
So how do we overcome Mosquitoes… NATURALLY?
If you really don’t want mosquitoes around you, deet 100% works, BUUUUT, I once spilled a bottle in my tent and it literally ate through the fabric, so regardless of the studies out there that say it’s safe, I vowed never to put it on my skin again, and have since looked for natural solutions.
1. Lemon Eucalyptus Power: This plant-based extract not only smells refreshing but also acts as a deterrent for those persistent bloodsuckers.
a. PRO TIP 1: soak a bandanna in LEP (I’d recommend buying your lemon euc. In bulk) and wear it around your neck, this way you don’t have to put it on your skin.
b. PRO TIP 2: Combine it with your sunscreen to help it spread further (just make sure your screen is compatible with essential oils).
2. Bug Jackets & tight knit clothing (including high dorky socks): If you’re on the trail, campsite or portage and really need relief, this is BY FAR your best defence. Bug jackets look dorky and can feel claustrophobic / hot, but when you’re about to go mad, it provides sweet relief. Long sleeve shirts and pants also really help, but make sure they have a tight knit or you’ll be jabbed all night looong.
a. PRO TIP: Find a bug jacket that seals well at the wrists (preferably with a velcro tab) especially during black fly season because those little buggers will climb up the wrist holes
b. PRO TIP 2: Put a ball cap under your bug net to give more space between the net and your face
3. Citronella Candles and a fan: it’s not a perfect solution, but it works. I find the candles on their own are not great, but adding a fan ‘barrier’ really helps.
4. Dress to Repel: Mosquitoes are less likely to be drawn to light hues, so ditch the dark shades and embrace pastels!
5. Spice up your food: Garlic, onion, chili peppers, basil, rosemary, mint, thyme and citrus fruits may all help in reducing your natural appeal, but I can’t honestly say I’ve noticed a MASSIVE difference from diet.
So there you have it. No shame if you feel more sensitive to mosquitoes than your friends and family, because mosquitoes may be TARGETING you - and there is actual science to prove it.
And I still believe that learning to accept their presence (and build your tolerance) in our space is vital, because our world would be a whole lot worse if they didn’t show up every summer.