Get Out There

Best Soaps to Repel Mosquitos

Every summer, we hear about mosquito-borne diseases. Diseases carried by mosquitoes can make you seriously ill. Avoiding bites is always a priority. Even mosquitoes that don’t carry illnesses still leave you with itchy, irritating bites!

So far this year, mosquitoes in Michigan have tested positive for the Jamestown Canyon virus. And people are being urged to take care. The virus usually causes symptoms like fever and fatigue but can cause encephalitis and meningitis in extreme cases. Wearing light-colored, skin-cover clothes and insect repellent can help. Also, keeping your door and window screens in good condition will stop them from entering your home. Plus, be sure you don’t have standing water near your residence where mosquitoes will lay eggs.

Mosquitoes may seem like a small nuisance, but they can spread deadly diseases like West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis through their bites,” said Mike Philip, Michigan Department of Agriculture Rural Development Pesticide and Plant Pest Management division director.  

It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Laboratories chief medical executive.

You’ve heard the advice about covering up and wearing bug spray before. But did you know that prevention can start in the shower? Certain soaps make you more attractive or less to mosquitos.

Everyone has a friend (or is the friend) who is a magnet for mosquitos. But it might just be their soap. Researchers studied the unique scent profiles of people when they were unwashed and washed with Dial, Dove, Native and Simple Truth soaps. Sixty percent of discernible scent on people came from soap, not their own natural odor.

The other aspect is that it’s not simply adding stuff to our body odor, but it’s also replacing some chemicals while eliminating others that are washed away,” lead researcher Clement Vinauger of Virginia Tech said. “So we think there is a lot of chemical interaction between our natural chemicals and soap chemicals.”

In the end, it turned out that mosquitos weren’t coconut fans. Coconut-scented soap reduced how attractive a person was to mosquitos. Mosquitos seek out nectar for sugar and certain nutrients. If a person smelled like that and certain floral notes, they were more likely to get bitten. Staying away from floral scents may help you cut down on bites.

The fact we are taking those flowery, fruity smells and putting them on our bodies means that now the same object smells like a flower and a person at the same time,” said Prof. Vinauger. “It would be like waking up and smelling something that was like both coffee and muffins. Very appealing.”

Other research has found other scents mosquitos hate. Lemon eucalyptus appeared to be as effective as DEET at deterring mosquitos. Mosquitos also detested the scent of peppermint oil. It’s a natural form of pest control. Peppermint oil can be used as perfume and has a cooling sensation when applied directly to the skin.

Remember that while these soaps can help repel mosquitoes, they are not guaranteed to protect completely against mosquito bites, especially in areas with high mosquito populations or diseases transmitted by mosquitoes,” said Ricky Young of Young’s Pest Control.

So, if you constantly get bitten, look into some coconut soap. But some good bug spray and protective clothing are necessary when heading out into buggy areas!

Banner image: Lara Jameson via Pexels

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