Are you curious, or do you really want to be freaked out? Mosquitoes don’t actually “ bite” you Their pointed noses have multiple parts for getting under your skin, the first being a tiny knife that slices open your skin so it can pump anti-coagulant saliva into you, while another part searches for a vein. The mosquito saliva is what triggers the itch, and they keep pumping it in until they’re done sucking your blood. Literally and figuratively, the mosquito is the only creature that can both suck and blow at the same time!
To add insult to injury, your outdoorsy fun can also be stopped short by a tick bite. In addition to the more commonly known tick borne diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ticks have been known to carry a whole host of other viruses, parasites and bacteria. Ticks are more commonly found in trees and wooded areas, and prefer to find hidden, out of the way spots to latch on to you. Check everything if you’ve been outside; they can hide between your toes, in your hair, under your waistband.
You may have heard in the recent news about singer Avril Lavigne revealing her struggle with Lyme disease. Real Housewives star Yolanda Foster of the Beverly Hills series also battled the disease and shared the debilitating damage which caused her to lose the ability to read and write. Clearly these bugs can be anywhere, and will bite anybody. Celebrities included. The neurological side effects of Lyme disease hit hard for author Amy Tan of The Joy Luck Club. She suffers from brain lesions and seizures, and requires continual antibiotics.
Now that we’re all sufficiently freaked out… what can you do!?!
If you grew up with DEET, then you’re familiar with the lovely smell; what I imagine mixing jet fuel and tear gas would be like. And it burns like hell if you get it in your eyes. There are also loads of stories of baby oil and other urban myths of ingredients that will keep these bugs at bay. I bet you’ve even used citronella candles, wristbands, and other natural blends of bug spray.
In careful tests performed by brave Consumer Reports enlistees, these products did not work. Not to say they won’t slightly deter a mosquito or tick if they get really close to it, but who wants to chance their skin to something that kinda-sorta sometimes might help? The “swat” team of testers ( get it?) boldly placed their arms into a cage of 200 disease free mosquitoes, and considered 2 or more bites in 5 minutes a fail rating. They even went so far as to drop live ticks onto their arms to see how closely they would crawl near their repellent-applied areas. If they crossed into repellent territory they failed the test.
Want to know which one’s worked??
Plant oils of citronella, lemongrass, and rosemary failed
Citronella candles and wristbands failed.
Products containing at least 30% Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, or 20% Picaridin were the star performers.
Both are chemically derived, but considered safer than DEET, and I bet they smell better!
Use DEET if you have no other choice, it’s better than lots of bug bites, but try to keep Lemon Eucalyptus and Picaridin close by.