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Foods to Eat to Repel Mosquitoes and Other Critters That Bug Us

By Nell Stephenson, B.S.
July 16, 2015
Foods to Eat to Repel Mosquitoes and Other Critters That Bug Us image

There’s nothing more annoying than having a mosquito buzzing around-and-around your ear while you’re trying to fall asleep or swatting flies away during what would otherwise have been an enjoyable outdoor summer dinner in the backyard.

But why does it seem that these pesky little critters tend to bug some of us more than others? Turns out, it’s not all random. Factors that may impact the probability of getting bitten include:1

1. What you’re wearing.

Dr. Jonathan Day, professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, suggests if you dress in dark colors you stand out against the horizon and mosquitoes can see you.

2. What you’re drinking.

“Ingesting beer significantly increased the percentage of mosquitoes that landed on the subjects, though precisely why was unclear,” concluded a 2002 study in The Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association.2

3. How you’re moving.

Richard Pollack, an instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health and adviser to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, explained mosquitoes are adept at figuring out where their target is by following these exhaled trails and that if you were to exercise vigorously, you would produce more carbon dioxide for a brief period, making you a little more attractive to mosquitoes.

So, wear light colors, stand still, and don’t drink beer. I’m kidding. But must we douse ourselves in DEET in order to keep our day or evening skeeter-free? Not at all.

As far as topical solutions, if you want to avoid chemical-based repellents altogether, a few promising alternatives do exist. "Of the products we tested, a soybean oil-based repellent was able to protect from mosquito bites for about 1.5 hours," said Mark Fradin, PhD, a researcher with Chapel Hill Dermatology.3 He and fellow researchers found other oils such as citronella, cedar, peppermint, lemongrass, and geranium provide short-lived protection at best.

Oil of eucalyptus products, however, may offer longer-lasting protection, preliminary studies show. Endorsed by the CDC, oil of lemon eucalyptus is available under the Repel brand name and offers protection similar to low concentrations of DEET and has the added bonus of being safe for children older than 3 years.

It looks like perhaps there’s a place for soy after all in the Paleo diet, so long as it’s not ingested!

Finally, what about tackling a surefire way to keep the mosquitoes at bay from the inside out? Is there anything we can eat to make ourselves a less appealing target?

Garlic comes to mind, as it was recommended as a means to aid in repelling ticks and fleas from dogs. Interestingly, eating garlic doesn’t seem to have as much of an effect…as applying it topically. A solution of 1% garlic combined with beeswax and petroleum jelly warded off mosquitoes for up to 8 hours in an Indian field study, according to the Colorado State University Extension.4

Hmmm… I think I’ll stick with the eucalyptus!

Can a real Paleo diet come in handy when it comes to repelling mozzies? It can! People who metabolize cholesterol quickly, not those who have higher cholesterol blood levels, may attract mosquitoes because byproducts of metabolism are present on the skin.5

Incorporate a Paleo lifestyle, glean healthy cholesterol levels, and keep mosquito free. Yet one more reason to stay the course!


[1] Mohney, Gillian. "5 Things That Make You a Mosquito Magnet." ABC News. ABC News Network, n.d. Web. 14 July 2015

[2] O'connor, Anahad. "The Claim: Eating Garlic Helps Repel Mosquitoes." The New York Times. The New York Times, 23 July 2007. Web. 14 July 2015

[3] "Mosquito Magnets: Who/What Attracts Mosquitoes?" WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 14 July 2015.

[4] "Is There a Food That You Can Eat to Repel Mosquitoes?" LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 16 June 2015. Web. 14 July 2015.

[5] Melnick, Meredith. "Ask Healthy Living: Do Mosquitoes 'Like' Some People More Than Others?" The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 14 July 2015

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