It’s no secret that eating certain foods can make us more or less attractive to people (looking at you, garlic), but does the same apply for pests? An emerging body of research is suggesting that our diets may be affecting more than just our internal health. Certain foods can affect the way we appeal to some of the most bothersome bugs such as ticks, mosquitoes, flies, and gnats.
These bugs crave some of the same foods we do (pests, they’re just like us!), so eating some of our favorite snacks may unintentionally turn us into a walking delicacy for biting bugs. Considering that many of these bugs can carry dangerous diseases, adopting a multilayered approach to bug repellent brings us one step closer to safe, worry-free time spent in the great outdoors.
Bad news for barbecues everywhere: indulging in chips, crackers, and those extra slices of bacon will lead all kinds of biting bugs straight to their favorite food source. Eating foods with a higher sodium content will cause your body to release more lactic acid, making you an absolute feast for mosquitoes and gnats. Mosquitoes, one of the most aggravating offenders, can detect people from over 150 feet away. Swap out saltier foods for low-sodium snacks like raw nuts, crispy apples, and fresh carrots to keep biting bugs at bay.
Beer and Alcohol
The next time you reach for a cold one, think twice. Drinking even just one beer can turn you into a warm, inviting bug magnet. Researchers have attributed the increased risk to blood vessel dilation and the rise in your skin temperature after having a drink. Those who have enjoyed a drink or two also may notice an increase in perspiration, which can attract bugs due to the elevated ethanol content found in your sweat. Take care to pack extra bug spray if you’ll be enjoying a boozy gathering outside this season.
Flies, mosquitoes, and gnats all share a common weakness with people: sugar. Satisfying your sweet tooth may be a threat to more than just your waistline. Sugary foods, like ones high in sodium, increase the amount of lactic acid that your body emanates. Biting bugs and other bothersome insects can detect the increased sugar in your blood even long after you’ve indulged on that extra slice of birthday cake. Trade popular, sweet picnic snacks for nut- or seed-based trail mix, plain popcorn, and homemade low- or no-sugar alternatives if you’d like to remain bug-bite free.
Foods High in Potassium
Contrary to popular belief, a diet full of healthy fruits and vegetables isn’t enough to ward off bothersome bugs. While filling up on whole, fresh foods can generally aid in repelling mosquitoes and gnats, foods such as spinach, avocados, bananas, potatoes, raisins, prunes, and lima beans increase the amount of (you guessed it) lactic acid our body generates, reeling those bugs right in. Switching these foods for ones that are high in vitamin B1 (thiamine) such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, may actually mask some of the scents that attract biting bugs.
Ordering mild salsa or asking for your burger without onions may make you more susceptible to biting bugs. Researchers have discovered that foods such as hot peppers, garlic, and onions make your scent less attractive to pests. The bad breath we experience after a hot date at an Italian restaurant may repel not only the object of your heart’s desires, it also does an excellent job of keeping bugs away. Ingesting raw garlic, onions, or hot peppers also causes your body to release sulphuric compounds and allicin through your pores, interfering with your natural scent and making it more difficult for biting bugs to scope you out.
Making you and your family less appealing to mosquitoes, gnats, flies, ticks, and other biting bugs can not only cut down on any potential pain or irritation, it can also protect you from many risky illnesses and make your time spent together safe and enjoyable. Keeping your family safe and ensuring you enjoy your time together is important to us. If biting bugs or other pests continue to disturb you and your family, don’t hesitate to call and discuss further courses of action with one of our pest control professionals.
Sources: https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2000/feb/mosq https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12083361/ http://www.empirestatelymediseaseassociation.org/Lyme_Disease/prevent_lyme_and_tick_borne_disease_empire_state_lyme.htm https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15752181/ https://authors.library.caltech.edu/58906/