Female mosquitoes are basically tiny vampires (males don't bite), and vampires are known to hate garlic, so garlic must repel mosquitoes and may even kill them — right? The longstanding belief that garlic is an effective insect repellent has been challenged by several researchers who argue that garlic doesn't have much of an effect on mosquitoes.
That said, some people believe in the magic of garlic. In fact, garlic tops most lists of folk remedies for mosquitos. Scientists have also noted that allicin, a compound in garlic cloves, is fatal to the larvae of some mosquito species.
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How to Use Garlic to Kill Mosquitoes
Rubbing garlic on the skin — perhaps mixed with a little beeswax — and eating garlic are some other traditional ways of using it as a mosquito repellent, but that can be stinky. If you're looking for a topical treatment and you want to avoid chemicals like DEET, try using a more fragrant and less pungent essential oil, such as tea tree, lavender or citronella.
Other Natural Ways to Deter Mosquitos
Mosquitoes are annoying, and they're also dangerous, so people have been searching for effective ways to deter or destroy them since time began. Some traditional deterrents that people have used with varying degrees of success include:
- Rubbing the leaves of the American beautyberry plant (Callicarpa americana) on your skin.
- Eating bananas.
- Using citronella or other aromatic natural oils, such as neem, lavender, tea tree, camphor or peppermint.
- Burning pinon wood.
Some people have even reported that mosquitoes are repelled by beer as long as you don't drink it. If you do, Weil reports that a 2010 study warns that you're more likely to attract malaria-carrying mosquitoes than your sober friend.
The fact is that mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide that people exhale and excrete through their skin, and they can detect it from 160 feet away. They also like the lactic acid, uric acid and ammonia in sweat and are drawn to hot, sweaty people. People exhale varying amounts of carbon dioxide and sweat to varying degrees, and those who exhale less and stay cool are less likely to be bitten and more likely to benefit from folk remedies.