Thursday, June 23, 2011

skeeter magnet

Mosquitoes love me.  They can't get enough of me.  And to make matters worse, they like to bite my face. Experts say mosquitoes really do have blood-sucking preferences. "One in ten people are highly attractive to mosquitoes," reports Jerry Butler, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Florida. Lucky me, I happen to be one of the chosen ten percent.  I currently have a mosquito bite on my forehead the size of a grapefruit.

Dr. Butler says that people with high concentrations of steroids, cholesterol, uric acid, or lactic acid on the surface of their skin will attract mosquitoes. Also, those who emit large amounts of carbon dioxide are attractive. Mosquitoes can smell their dinner for an impressive distance of up to 50 meters. How are we supposed to avoid them, especially if we don't want to slather ourselves with DEET every time we go outside?  Oil of eucalyptus products are said to be very effective, so I'm adding this to my shopping list.

Here's a few ways to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes and protect yourself from mosquito-borne diseases like encephalitis and West Nile virus:

  • Cover trash containers that have the ability to collect water.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets.
  • Make sure gutters and downspouts are draining properly.
  • Empty bird bathes twice a week.
  • Empty pets' watering dishes daily.
  • Use sand to plug holes in trees where water can collect.  

One birdbath alone can be a breeding spot for 5000 mosquitoes over the course of one summer.  Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to give the old stone one on the patio a good going over with me mops and me brushes. 5000! Yikes.

photo: birdbath at Willow Manor


  1. oh boy, do i relate to this... we've made our little florida garden a "wilderness," and the mosquitoes feel quite at home here! (and after reading this, i've decided i must be one of the lucky 1 in 10.)

    thanks for the tips - i'll check out the oil of eucalyptus, since i can't bring myself to slather on the DEET, and citronella candles are definitely NOT working...

  2. Ha! Good luck with your fight with the skeeters! We used to put goldfish in our rainbarrels so that they would eat the skeeter larvae ... it worked until a heron found our rain barrels!

    Now, we empty containers and dog bowls, dump the drain saucers under our terrace plants and make sure our gutters aren't clogged and collecting water. Gutters are one of the worst offenders for homeowners fighting mosquitoes ... you don't tend to look up and think of them breeding near your roof line.

  3. We must be in the same percentage...
    I look like a banquet to those little buggers.
    Thanks for the skeeter tips,
    xoxo~Kathy @
    Sweet Up-North Mornings...

  4. I feel for you, Tess... I've always been the same. My mom always said mosquitoes like me b/c I'm so sweet (gag).

  5. Bad luck! They love my husband, too.

  6. Willow you need Bat Houses! Bats are the BEST Mosquito controllers. A Little Brown Bat can eat 500 to 1000 mosquitoes in an HOUR! That's just one bat... 4000-8000 in one evening! They are wonderful, and we had a bat house at a previous home (the only problem the bats gave us, is they occasionally ended up drowned in the pool skimmer basket :( It's interesting you posted about this because I was just thinking how much I miss seeing the bats flutter about at this home & because we have so many trees, I was just thinking its time to get another Bat House. You should try it! They are wonderful (just not beautiful up close (ugly little buggers!)

  7. Mosquitos love me too and can spot/smell me a mile away. I once encountered some in Nova Scotia - huge and very biting. Took me weeks to recover, so you have my sympathy.

  8. Janis, no need for bat houses here. We have tons of bats, and an old bomb shelter to house them! When I go for a evening walk, they like to circle my head.

  9. Chew raw garlic; the buggers hate it! It's also slightly anti-social, so there's a choice to be made.

    Otherwise, anything with Vitamin B.

  10. We had one in the house last night humming around my ears.....

  11. The kids ran around the other day in our back yard finishing up the 4th of July sparklers. We sat for over an hour (in the evening) outside in our back yard which is a forest, basically, and not one bite... Makes me think I'm going to invest in a few more sparklers...

  12. My brother always laughs at me, because I swear in a crowd I am always the one who is bitten by those nasty bugs...I am showing him your post, cant argue with the experts... :)

  13. now if we can only stop all this raining

  14. I'm another unfortunate one... have many bites on the sides of my neck and the back of it too. UG.

    I will be shopping for oil of eucalyptus TODAY! Thank you for all those tips. I knew those rain gutters needed cleaning.

  15. I think the number is more than 1 in ten. I don't know anyone not bothered by them. I have read that the estrogen draws them to ladies. I've been told that a clothes dryer sheet in the pocket keeps them away but I couldn't prove that. I like your idea of the oil of eucalyptus rather than DEET. I hope that works. Around my house we have to do more to prevent ticks with the lyme and babesiosis.

  16. Yep, I'm right there with ya - always get bitten. Luckily I live in the dry desert so it's not so bad. Just got home from DC and I have 8 on one leg (much better than the forehead). My husband almost never gets one.

  17. Oh Tess thank you!! One thing I cannot stand are mosquito bites!! Also insect spray repellent is repellent!


    Art by Karena

  18. My son is a mosquito dinner! Same problem- he is a warm person, rosy, vital the mosquitoes know who to choose for deliciousness...They don't like lemon- Next time you may want to try the peel of a lemon crushed and smooshed through the blender, mix with a little eucalyptus oil and slather it on.

  19. Living in the tropics we are inundated and I have found that OFF is an excellent product as is Citronella which I see doesn't work for Leslie. We can buy citronella candles in buckets and it does seem to work. Mozzies don't like smoke either so lighting the barbeque pit before sitting outside and smoking them out can be a remedy - for sand flies too.

    You have to be very aware of breeding places - we have the added problem here of them carrying Dengue as well as Malaria but in this country the former is more prominent. Not wishing to be a Job's comforter but if one is unlucky enough to get Dengue which could also be hemorrhagic dengue, for those who don't know, please ensure that you don't take any aspirin based drugs to bring down the fever. Very dangerous.

    Tess, you have as we say here 'sweet blood'!

  20. Oh, Tess: we've always known you are so attractive to people, and this Bear. That mosquitoes should be attracted to you is hardly a surprise. I suspect lots would buzz around your computer, reading your blog, if you let them.
    What? You don't like that much attraction?
    Oh, well; I guess it's time to try oil of eucalyptus. Or maybe grow a few eucalyptus trees. (Of course, with those you might attract a whole collection of Koala Bears -- not a bad start, actually.)

    Best wishes.

  21. You and me both sister! Boy do they love me too. Bed Bath and Beyond sells Citronella insense. I haven't tried it but I wonder if it works? I love eucalyptus trees we used to have some in San Diego in our canyon and both did they ever smell good. I am going to try the oil. Thanks for the tip :)

  22. They love me too ~ feast on me! Your post couldn't have been more timely for me now that we are back in the states and in the South! And the house we are closing on today has a birdbath!! :)

  23. Tess, I was going to suggest Bat Houses too....but I see you are fortunate to already have some!

    Yes, I am one of *the lucky* ones too....I remember a Summer visiting relatives in Croatia ....whe I left, I looked like a victim of the Mum didn't have a bitemark on her!
    Now, after being bit on my eyelid....(wow was that hideous - and painful)....I wage *war* on those pests! I hate that high-pitched whine next to my ear!!!! As much as I dislike killing anything...if one gets near me or on my....I say "Prepare to Die"!

    I hope the Eucalyptus works - I'm going to get some too!


    ♥ Robin ♥

  24. How could a person emit carbon monoxide? I think you meant dioxide? Also, us older people (over 40) have it even harder as we lose the ability to hear the little buggers circling in. You need an old fashioned bee hat and find some friends who taste better than you and sit next to them.

  25. Oh, God, they love me, too. They don't go near Joe... I get bitten on my ankles--and I hate using DEET, too, but it's the only thing that works, so far. I've tried tons of things. Once, when I was in the Netherlands in the summer, there were no screens on the window in my hotel room, and they had all the windows open. It felt delightful to get the fresh air, but in the morning, I woke up and had a huge bite on my cheek right next to my eye. Your comment made me remember it.

  26. Hi! Willow...
    Wow! I hate to read that you, attract mosquitoes, but thanks for sharing the information about how to prevent them from "festering" or multiplying.
    deedee ;-D

  27. Yes, violet, I did mean dioxide! Thanks for bringing that to my attention. bad. Correcting it now.

  28. I took a walk the other morning and was attacked. But I bought an herbal product to help. "Bug Be Gone" It contains oil of eucalyptus, citronella,cedar, lavender, cinnamon, orange. peppermint and lemon in a distilled water base. I carry the bottle with me as i walk and just keep spraying myself when they come around.

  29. Sorry, I have been having a good laugh with your description of a bite as big as a grapefruit and on your forehead??!! Good luck with that! Rarely see bugs here, very few flies...we can leave the doors open without problems. Although large strange surfer dudes are the norm here! ha

  30. Me too I'm afraid. I have three bites already this week. Even worse I'm allergic to the bites so they swell up and go nasty. I'm so fed up with it but seem unable to avoid it. Here are my tips ( for what they're worth ).
    1. Skin so Soft by Avon is good for the skin and 'they' don't like it.
    2. Take extra B vitamins. That is supposed to help.
    3. Jungle Formula roll-on, spray or cream (available on the internet in America and in the shops in England).
    4. Take anti-histamine tablet every day all through the summer so that in case you are bitten, you have defense in place.
    Good luck with the one on your forehead. I hope it soon clears up and doesn't leave a scar!

  31. That really helps. That explains why sometimes I am a mosquito feast and other times they ignore me. I live in a dry area so they aren't a big deal at home.

    See ya later skeeter magnet.

  32. I hear you! They love me! Fleas don't, but "skeeters" eat me up! I'm glad we don't have many where I live.

  33. Me too!..Empathy and sympathy!

  34. Our granddaughters all sleep under mosquito nets, during the summer months. I hear that citronella is a good deterrent, too.

  35. Oh my, I thought it was because you were so very w
    Once we had our English relatives to stay when we lived on Long Island and they were attacked all night and arrived at breakfast looking astounding!

  36. You got the mosquito part right. We do our bowls and baths once a day in the summer and in the winter we don't do them. The birds will eat them if they spot them but I don't like to wait that long for them to develop.

    We also use a scrub brush we got at the dollar store that has a curved handle and it idea for scrubbing the cracks and crevices in the big Celtic birdbath.

    I seldom get bit. I guess it is either the medicine I take or I don't smell great. My girls get bit all the time.

  37. They are monsters. Bless the dragonflies, which are superior monsters!

  38. Spraying the body with cologne is a very effective deterent. Forget the custom made antidotes.

  39. I feel bad for you! I used to get bitten a lot, but not so much anymore. Guess I lost my sweetness with age ;)

  40. Timely post, as I'm finding myself knee deep and wading in mosquito country this week. I've been bitten twice, one mosquito bite swelling on my forehead to the size of a quarter!

  41. I have a friend like this. I can sit next to her and she is a meal for the pesky pests.

  42. During my recent hospital visit of five days, when I was having such terrible ankle pain, they ran a blood uric acid, thinking I might have gout. It was slight elevated. I don't have gout but I have many kidny stones and they are uric acid stones. They are too large for me to pass but, if I don't stay adequately hydrated, they can hurt like the devil.

    Thankfully, here in the cool climes of San Francisco, mosquitos aren't too big a problem but, when I was in India years ago, mosquitos hovered around me. I was on anti-malaria pills and, if I finally get to make that six month stay, I'll do the same again.

    I read an article once that Listerine - the yellow kind, is an effective deterrant. I've never given it a try. Perhaps you might and let me know! Don't gargle with it - spray it on your skin!

  43. Tess- Oh I know how horrible mosquitoes can get. The only thing worse is black flies which can be very disturbing! -- barbara

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  45. I don't like mosquitoes, when I lived on the coast they seemed to be everywhere, (knock on wood) now, in the desert, I don't see them... it must be too dry for them here.

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  47. Oh my goodness Tess... in Australia, especially in QLD, the mozzies are terrible in summer and they absolutely love to bite me too. I can be sitting in the same space as many other people and the mozzies always seem to home in on mwa! How lucky am I?? So if it's night time and I'm sitting outside, I always sit close to a Citronella Candle. Lemon Myrtle(essential oil) mixed with a carrier oil or alcohol makes an effective repellent, if you don't want to use the commercial chemical based repellants this is a nice natural option. I think I have also heard that cinnamon oil is also good as a repellant. They both smell pretty good too.

  48. I don't know if the two things are related, but ever since I've given up sugar in my diet, I haven't gotten a single mosquito bite. And I spend hours every week out in my garden!

    I did just spend several days chasing down the health department to get a huge abandoned loading dock in my town pumped out - there was a HUGE amount of standing water in there, and no one was doing anything about it. Finally, after I buzzed in their ears enough, they took care of it. 8-)

  49. If I go outside for more than ten minutes (especially if I'm weeding) I have multiple bites. For some reason they don't like my face, though. They're more partial to my legs and arms.

  50. I would take a bite on the leg or arm any day over my face! It looks like one huge zit.

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  52. Did you also know that taking Vitamin B1 will deter "skeeters"? Since it's best to take B Vitamins in balance, I suggest a B-Complex. Apparently, it makes you smell funny to the little critters and not so tasty. Just a tidbit of information from my plethora of nutritional information.

  53. Some very useful tips here - esp the bird bath! That's one I'll have to check up on! Thanks!

  54. One time I got a mosquito bite
    but I just bit him right back
    on the left side of the leg

    let him know who was boss
    and I can tell you this
    I never heard from that bugger again

    Another thing that's been effective for me is that
    I refer to them not as mosquitos
    but as Muskee Toes.

    I find this confuses them a ton
    and they spend the night looking in ponds, puddles, and even reflecting shiny metal parts
    "who am I?"
    "what is my life?"
    and I think you can imagine
    the other related querries.
    Net result - there's another big chunk a buggers that dont
    ruin my picnics

    And the last thing I suggest that
    you might find very helpful
    is to put one of those little
    yellow stickies on your forehead
    that says

    It works 100% of the time for me.


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)