It starts with a slight tingle, develops into an itch and by the time you wake up in the morning it’s a sore, red lump that you scratch without even thinking. Insect bites are one of the less glamorous side effects of the warmer weather. Google how to prevent insect bites and you’ll find mists, balms and creams, as well as several suggestions of what to eat to avoid being eaten alive. But, can what you eat or not eat really put mosquitoes off?
Does garlic repel mosquitoes?
There are rumours that dining out on garlic can help prevent insect bites, but the American Mosquito Control Association don’t advise it. According to a 2005 study by the University of Connecticut Health Center, consuming large amounts of garlic has no impact on whether you get bitten or not.
What about vitamin B1?
Thanks to a study dating back to the 1960s, there is a suggestion that taking vitamin B1 supplements daily can help make you less attractive to insects and bugs. The idea is that vitamin B1 makes your sweat smell less appealing, yet recent research has been unable to verify this. That said, there are no risks to taking the vitamin every day between April and October should you want to put the theory to the test though.Shabir recommends Solgar’s Vitamin B1 500mg.
Should you avoid beer?
It’s thought that guzzling beer can increase your chances of getting bitten. A small study published in The Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association in 2002 found that drinking just 350ml of beer can significantly boost your chances, but scientists were unable to explain why.
What about insect repellents?
There is plenty of research around the benefits of DEET (or N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) and some go as far as to say it’s the ‘king of insect repellent’. While a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that it provided the longest lasting protection against mosquitoes and a further study by New Mexico State University in 2017 found DEET to be more effective than wearable devices, there are some who prefer to avoid the chemical following research suggesting that frequent and prolonged use can affect your neurological functions.
There are natural ingredients that can repel mosquitoes and insects, including citronella and lemon eucalyptus which is derived from eucalyptus leaves. Mrs White’s Unstung Hero Insect Repellent is an iconic formula that champions citronella. It’s thought that an extract within coconut oil can offer some relief too, but scientists are currently exploring this further. Interestingly, the New Mexico State University also found that Avon Skin So Soft Bath Oil and Victoria’s Secret Bombshell can offer around two hours of protection from mosquitoes when spritzed liberally.