Anti-Mosquito Foods

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Summer's coming -- and with it, mosquitoes. Some unfortunate souls are unfortunately irresistible to the pests, while others have some strange scent that drives Houston's most noxious beasts away. I am one of the former, forever spending my summers covered in unsightly scars and scabs, attracting mosquitoes away from my friends in an act of martyrdom over which I have no control.

Every year I cross my fingers, toes, and eyes in hopes that someone will develop a pill that will make me immune to the horrors -- but alas, all I can do is apply the DEET, plant more citronella, and try to use food to my advantage. After all, how nice would it be if eating a simple food could bring relief to all of us who become walking bait each summer? Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence that eating vitamins, onions, or any other food will make you less prone to mosquitoes -- but some studies suggest that certain foods in certain individuals can affect their attractiveness to bugs. Here are a few suggestions.

Garlic Perhaps because of its strong odor, garlic is sometimes thought of as a magical mosquito repellent -- but studies say that the claim is wishful thinking at its finest. Even still, anecdotal evidence says that garlic does have an impact on some folks. While the most common idea is to rub a clove on your skin (the juice from inside can be deadly to mosquitoes), a more delicious way is to ingest it. And while eating garlic may not keep away as many bugs as you'd like, it can do the trick with pests of the human variety.

Rosemary Keep the bugs at bay by growing rosemary in your yard. The common herb has an oil that repels mosquitoes. You can use the rosemary in your cooking year round -- and make a anti-mosquito tea over the summer: Cut the rosemary leaves and stems, add to a cup of boiling water with some mint, and let steep for an hour or so. You can drink the tea -- or keep the mixture in spray bottle to use as an external repellent.

Bananas Mosquitoes love potassium. Perhaps it's how they refuel after a full day of flying, buzzing, and annoying the crap out of perfectly nice people like me (which I fully admit can be exhausting). That said, lay off the bananas before days you'll spend outdoors. Tomatoes, melon, and milk products also fit into the potassium-rich category.

Sadly, these tips will never be a cure-all for the amazing plethora of mosquitoes that call our fair city home. While DEET gets a bad rap for its chemical content, it is far and away the most effective solution. Perhaps if used in combination, these ideas can help prevent some of the itchy misery. How about you -- Got any tricks to keep mosquitoes away?

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Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


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