Mosquitoes, The why and how they find and bite you!
Now let me just say right off the bat, that I am in no way a mosquito expert! I don't have any special training nor am I a scientist or entomologist (bug specialist). BUT, I can read, AND I have done my research on the how and why of mosquitoes. Here's what the scientists and experts have found out so far.
Only female mosquitoes bite. (why)? They need a blood meal to develop and lay their eggs. How do they find the blood they need? As with all of nature's creatures mosquitoes have evolved to survive by highly developing only the exact senses they need to live long enough to reproduce. So do they see better than other creatures? NO! It has been proven that a mosquito can not only find you in complete and total darkness, but will go strait for you!
Here's how they do it. Scientist have known for some time that mosquitoes sense carbon dioxide in the air. Not only do they sense it they home in on certain chemicals carried in that carbon dioxide. It's called a carbon dioxide signature.
Plants, animals, water, and almost everything has its own carbon dioxide signature. It is now known that different plants can be identified by this signature. By the same rules even humans all have a different carbon dioxide signature. It's even being called a carbon dioxide fingerprint and is being used in crime labs to identify people!
Ever wonder why the mosquitoes bite you and not the guy next to you? They are attracted to certain chemicals in the carbon dioxide being released from your body and the guy next to you doesn't have as much of these chemicals in his carbon dioxide as you do. However, there are thousands of chemicals already identified in human carbon dioxide release! What are these certain chemicals that attract mosquitoes? Have they been identified? Yes! but the scientists who discovered them aren't telling us exactly what they are! That's right they are keeping these facts a secret! All they will say is that three key chemical signatures found in the release of human carbon dioxide will attract mosquitoes at a rate of 100%.
Other scientist have proven that these chemicals are Lactic Acid related and another attractant is fatty acids being released in the human carbon dioxide signature.
There is no such thing as a mosquito repellent!
So, now we know more about what attracts mosquitoes. What do we know about what repels them? Get this, the truth is "mosquitoes aren't repelled by anything!" They simply cannot sense anything that sends them running, is irritating, disgusting or repulsive! Therefore there is no such thing as a mosquito repellent! They are either attracted or they aren't!
So if it isn't the disgusting stench of DEET that keeps them off of you what is it? The truth is out there, all one has to do is look for it! Here's what I found. DEET inhibits the lactic acid receptor cells, (it masks the lactic acids, changes it) confuses the mosquito and prevents the blood feeding response. In other words, the mosquito will not bite when you wear DEET because it cannot smell lactic acid and cannot identify you as a meal. Most insect repellents work in the same way, no matter what the source, they confuse the olfactory receptors and the mosquito simply cannot smell you.
How does it do this? DEET contains plant chemicals that when placed on the skin evaporate and are released with your carbon dioxide. This changes your carbon dioxide signature to that of a plant! The mosquito sees a plant, not what she is looking for so she looks elsewhere. BUT, DEET also contains allot of other unnecessary poisons intended to KILL the mosquitoes. It has been proven these same chemicals will KILL YOU!
Let's stop right here and look at this a minute. How many mosquitoes do we have to kill so that we never get bit by one that is carrying some awful disease? Don't get me wrong, I hate the bloody little buggers as much as the next guy, but is it even possible to kill that many? And if we managed to kill too many mosquitoes, what then? What happens to the creatures who survive by eating mosquitoes? They starve to extinction! Then the creatures who survive by eating the creatures who eat mosquitoes die also. This is the way nature works and some of these same creatures pollinate our plants! How long before we realize we are killing ourselves? Trying to kill mosquitoes is not only futile but is doing irreparable damage to our entire ecology. Already people are asking "what happened to all the Purple Martins that used to be around?" How much of nature's beauty have we already destroyed with this vendetta?
ALL you need to keep the mosquitoes from biting you is a disguise, something that makes you undetectable, an anti-mosquito cloak that conceals or hides you, so mosquitoes don't recognize you as a meal. This would give you a protective shield. Some plants oils contain chemicals which when applied to the skin evaporate and are carried into the air with your carbon dioxide thereby changing your signature. Nepetalactone, found in Catnip oil is one of the most recently discovered plant chemicals which is proving to be very effective in masking the human signature. It is not an irritant as reported.
The insect repellent properties of Catnip and Catnip oil have been used for centuries and written about in many famous books long before the research was even done by Iowa State University entomologist Chris Peterson, Ph.D., with Joel Coats, Ph.D. . It was already an established FACT that Nepetalactone was the active chemical responsible for these repellent activities. The books listed below are just a few.
The Magic and Medicine of plants Published by Reader's
Digest published in 1986, page 134, "The excited joy that catnip inspires in cats is caused by an oil the plant secretes to ward off insects."
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American
Wildflowers - Published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright 1979. Page
577, plant#183 Catnip "It contains a terpene-like chemical, nepeta
lactone, which tends to repel insects and can therefore be used to
protect other plants."
Peterson Field Guides, Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke, Published 1990, Houghton Mifflin Co, New York, NY. Page 70, "nepetalactone, a mild sedative compound in Catnip, also possesses herbicidal and insect-repellant properties."
Glossary of Plant-Derived Insect Deterrents, by M. Jacobson, published in 1990, CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, FL, page 213.
Handbook of biologically active phytochemicals and their activities by James A. Duke, published 1992 by CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.
The EPA considers anything that calls itself a repellent to be a pesticide!
Not only that but if you call it an insect repellent it HAS to be registered as a PESTICIDE!
Quote from the EPA website "Products are generally considered to be pesticides if they are intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest or intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant."
In Merriam-Webster's Dictionary a pesticide is defined as "an agent used to destroy pests"! Where as a repellent simply means "serving or tending to drive away or ward off"! Leave it to the US Government to redefine the English language!
Author: Deb Jackson - Stewart, Tennessee
Herbalist, Author, Editor, Artist