As we head into our summer months, which is historically when mosquito activity is at its highest in the US, our TruGreen experts decided to explore common mosquito beliefs in an effort to separate the fact from fiction.
We’ll uncover if there’s any truth to those tips your mom, dad, aunt, uncle and/or neighbor has given you in the past, such as:
- Avoid bananas
- Eat garlic (and lots of it!)
- Don’t wear dark clothing
- They only bite you at night
Everyone has a mosquito story or belief. This may have been passed down from generation to generation, is specific to your region, or is something you read about. TruGreen decided to answer America’s most pressing mosquito questions by polling 2000 Americans. The results may surprise you.
Belief 1: Mosquitoes are more attracted to beer drinkers
A huge 84% of Americans believe this to be false, but we can confirm that it is in fact true. Mosquitoes are attracted to high levels of carbon dioxide, elevated temperature, and lactic acid, all of which increase in our bodies when we drink alcohol, particularly fermented beverages such as beer and wine.
That means you need to go easy on the brewskies or wine coolers - especially if you’re sitting outdoors.
Belief 2: Mosquitoes are attracted to you based on what you eat
The unfortunate news is that this is true, so you may have to skip the avocado at brunch if you want to reduce your chances of being bitten. Mosquitoes are in fact influenced by what you eat and less than a quarter of Americans believe this to be true with most Google searches coming from Florida, California, Texas, New York, and Ohio.
The reason this happens is that some foods increase our lactic acid levels or expel more lactic acid from our bodies. Bananas and avocados fall into this category. It’s also bad news for pickled food lovers, as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and cider will all make you dizzyingly attractive to a mosquito.
What foods drive mosquitoes away? Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to support the claims about certain foods repelling mosquitoes.
Belief 3: Mosquitoes are drawn to sugary foods
Do mosquitoes have a sweet tooth? 26% of Americans polled agree with this statement and it is true. However, there is more to this than you might think. Both male and female mosquitoes need sugar to survive and they do prefer to obtain natural sugars from plant nectar. However, the scent of sugary foods, like sodas and cookies, will attract them. So, unfortunately, your love for sugar could make you an easy target. Stay safe and eat kale.
Belief 4: Citronella candles can repel mosquitoes
More than 26,000 online searches, mostly from Virginia, are conducted about whether or not citronella candles are effective mosquito repellents. The answer to this belief, surprisingly, is false. While more than a third of Americans believe this to be true, TruGreen’s staff entomologist has confirmed that the citronella candle is an ineffective way to repel mosquitoes.
In fact, one would need to burn a huge quantity of citronella to effectively overwhelm a mosquito's senses. So, before you go lighting up a room full of candles and run the risk of setting the house on fire, be advised that you’re better off with a good-quality mosquito repellent.
Belief 5: Mosquitoes are attracted to people who exercise
It’s true - mosquitoes are drawn to people who exercise, especially those who exercise outdoors at dusk. They’re attracted to the scent of perspiration, increased carbon dioxide levels, and elevated body temperature - all of which are synonymous with high-cardio, like running or cycling. Surprisingly, more than one in four of those polled believe this to be false. Don’t worry though - you won't have to give up exercising just yet. You can keep safe by exercising at the gym or swapping out your evening routine for an early morning workout.
Belief 6: Mosquitoes prefer ‘sweet blood’
There is a popular misconception that mosquitoes like ‘sweet blood’. More than a fifth of Americans polled have bought into this belief, which renders more than 4,000 searches each month from concerned investigators in Louisiana, Alaska, Oklahoma, and Indiana.
The verdict is that this belief is false. There is no such thing as ‘sweet blood’. While the female mosquito requires a certain protein in blood to complete the life cycle of her eggs, the taste is not a factor. We can confirm, however, that there is documented evidence to support the theory that mosquitoes are drawn to the O blood group over blood groups A, B, or AB.
Belief 7: Bats can control mosquito populations in your yard
A fifth of respondents believe that bats will reduce the number of mosquitoes in their yards. This is false. We’re sorry to report that while it’s great to have an abundance of wildlife in your yard, bats will not affect the mosquito population. The majority of a bat’s diet is made up of larger insects, like moths or cicadas. On the plus side, your yard will benefit from the nitrogen-rich fertilizer derived from bat guano.
Belief 8: You can repel mosquitoes by growing certain plants in your garden
Although almost a third of people polled believe this is true, it's actually false. While there are plants, like thyme, peppermint, lavender, basil, geraniums, rosemary, verbena, and marigolds, whose scent can overwhelm a mosquito’s senses, one needs to be cognizant of quantities required.
A gardener would need to grow an enormous amount of these plants to effectively repel mosquitoes, which is simply not feasible in most suburban gardens.
Belief 9: Mosquitoes only bite at night
While most Americans are aware that this is false, 16% of respondents did agree with the statement. TruGreen experts explain that there are many different types of mosquitoes and these are active at different times of the day. The Aedes species of mosquito, for example, are daytime biters while Anopheles tend to bite at dusk and dawn, and the Culex species bites in the evening.
Mosquito activity is also influenced by climate and environment. Warmer weather and shady areas are favored by mosquitoes. We suggest using TruGreen Mosquito Defense solutions to control unwanted mosquito activity.
Belief 10: All mosquito repellants work
While almost a fifth of Americans polled believe that all over-the-counter repellants work, this is in fact false.
When it comes to choosing a mosquito repellant, TruGreen experts recommend a product that contains at least 15% DEET. This is a common ingredient used in the manufacture of US mosquito repellents and consistently ranks as one of the top insect-repelling products in consumer testing reports. The balance of evidence also indicates that DEET is safe to use as directed.