Help me make my legs untasty to mosquitoes!
December 27, 2017 7:47 PM   Subscribe

Help me make my legs untasty to mozzies without marinating them in DEET?

I live in a multi-unit apartment block with a mosquito problem. We do not keep plants etc. but mosquitoes fly in through the bathroom and kitchen windows. I have complained to the management to no avail; they sent inspectors down but claimed they found no breeding sites.
I am not the apartment owner and the owner refuses to screen all the windows. Screens are not common here and fixed screens are really expensive anyway (I am not in the U.S.) but I have put up one of those DIY screens on my bedroom windows. I am mostly ok in my bedroom unless a mozzie flies through the door but I keep getting bitten in other parts of the apartment.
Based on the advice here, I will be making my own reed diffusers. I have a bottle of lemon eucalyptus oil.
Do you have any advice how to keep the mozzies off? I would prefer not to wear DEET or Picaridin-based repellent all day. The mozzies here are so determined that I have gotten bites even with mozzie patches on my clothing or after spraying a commercial herbal repellent on my legs. I think they like to attack my legs because of the greater surface area and because I am less likely to notice them hovering below.
I used to take vitamin B multi-vitamins so I can tell you that first hand that Vitamin B doesn't work.
posted by whitelotus to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It really doesn't matter what you do to your body, or what you do to the air inside your house. If the little bastards can find their way in there, they will bite you. Keeping them out is the only thing that actually works.

So you can fuck about with repellents or you can make them unnecessary. I expect you'd pay rather less for those screens than for a year's worth of ineffective repellents.
posted by flabdablet at 8:02 PM on December 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

And after your living space is secure (not before!) you might want to deploy a few of these insect electric chairs.
posted by flabdablet at 8:09 PM on December 27, 2017

flabdablet, I agree with you but the owner refuses to let me put screens on windows in communal areas of the house, even DIY ones so there is nothing I can do about that. I cannot afford to move.
posted by whitelotus at 8:16 PM on December 27, 2017

the owner refuses to let me put screens on common areas of the house

Can you find out why they object to screens? It might be possible to design a screening method that doesn't run foul of those objections. For example, all the really cheap DIY screens involve attaching adhesive tapes to the window frames; it might be that the owner doesn't like the idea of the tapes, perceiving them as messy and damaging to paint.

I can't imagine they actually take pleasure in the idea of their tenants' mosquito bites. Surely there is some way to engineer door and window screens that meet the constraints imposed by all involved parties.
posted by flabdablet at 8:22 PM on December 27, 2017

Wear loose fitting pants or buy screens, that's it, that's all that works.
posted by fshgrl at 8:24 PM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

I wore these leggings (and a long-sleeve top by the same brand) on a multi-day end-of-summer hiking trip in the Minnesota wilderness, where the joke is that mosquitoes are the official state bird (those mother effers are large and angry like you would not believe). I was completely unbitten anywhere that was covered by these because the fabric is very tightly woven (in order to be sold as a UPF 30 sunscreen clothing) so mosquitoes' proboscis cannot pierce it. In contrast, one day I wore a regular Lycra long sleeve top and got bitten up like crazy despite copious amounts of nuclear-strength Deet. They have less crazy colors sold through their website.
posted by rada at 8:27 PM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

flabdablet: The damage to the frames is one issue, also due to the window design, it would be hard to open and close the windows with screens on.

Another issue is that for cultural reasons, people like to hang their laundry in the windows here (no dryers). It's impossible to do so with screens and the other people living here object to it, including the owner for that reason.
posted by whitelotus at 8:34 PM on December 27, 2017

Unfortunately, you've ruled out the two most effective ways to keep mosquitos off of you. Here are two more suggestions to try:

1) Fans that are aimed right at you. Mosquitos find people through their CO2 emissions, so dispersing those can help. A lazy ceiling fan isn't enough. You want a stiff breeze.

2) Avon Skin-So-Soft bath oil. This isn't as effective as actual bug repellent, but people have long believed it deters bugs and there may be something to it, even though it's not effective as actual repellent.

(They make a repellent now too, I'm referring to the actual bath oil since you don't want repellent.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:38 PM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

You can buy mosquito netting (the width is very wide, like 240 cm) by the meter and make "curtains" for your windows. Using a tension curtain rod, you can even put curtains in your open doorways and needless to say, you can buy ready-made mosquito nets for beds.

Also, mosquito coils.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:40 PM on December 27, 2017 [9 favorites]

I often work in an industrial dock area where we would go to the beach in our off time. There are thousands of mosquitos there and even with repellent you would usually get dozens of bites. Once I went with no repellent and got zero bites. Everyone else was getting bitten, but there was literally a one foot buffer between my skin and the mosquitos.
I mentioned this back at the vessel and one of the old Cajuns indicated it was “because of the garlic.” The cook onboard made fresh garlic butter every morning with fresh pressed garlic and I ate this every day. He said eating garlic was what allowed the Cajuns to live in the swamps of Louisiana for hundreds of years. I am a believer. YMMV.
posted by Short End Of A Wishbone at 8:51 PM on December 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

I use this, a dynatrap mosquito trap thingie. My window screen fits very loose and one of my windows has holes (they need to be replaced but there's no money for that right now, next year most likely) and this thing really does trap and kill mosquitoes with nothing more than UV light and a CO2 exuder. In the summer its a godsend!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:09 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

The alternatives to screens in Venice (swampland with many mosquitoes!) were translucent curtains kept closed in front of open windows most of the time. Would that be an option?
posted by lazuli at 9:45 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Eat lots of garlic. Some people find eating one raw clove of garlic a day can be helpful.

If you can keep your roommates tasty, they might get more attention than you. I've noticed that sometimes one person seems to attract many mosquitoes than anyone else -- in a just world, this would end up being the person insisting on no screens.

Also, get a bed net.
posted by yohko at 11:30 PM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

B12 injections. Many pharmacies outside the US sell ampules and syringes. You can take it orally as well but injections every 3 days are more effective. Did this in the Amazon myself, worked great.

Also make sure to wash your legs and feet thoroughly. Mosquitoes are attracted to your scent. Wiping down with alcohol helps too.
posted by ananci at 12:21 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

translucent curtains kept closed in front of open windows most of the time

If you made curtains out of this insecticide-doped mesh material they might even work almost as well as properly fitted screens. But they're not going to stop the house filling with mozzies as soon as your housemates hang out their laundry.

The University of Wisconsin has the lowdown on a whole pile of things that have been shown not to reduce bite rates (including some recommended above) and a few that do.
posted by flabdablet at 4:47 AM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Birch tar?
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 6:46 AM on December 28, 2017

From a random internet search:

Foods That Repel Mosquitoes
posted by Crystal Fox at 7:18 AM on December 28, 2017

Mosquitoes generally don't find me tasty. A friend of mine long ago, however, was an Anopheles banquet until he started taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar every morning before his coffee.
posted by notsnot at 8:37 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Cover your legs with sage oil. It messes up the mosquitos ability to smell you and smells pretty good.
posted by ball00000ns at 8:50 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Curtains really can help - something like these $5(US) Ikea Lill curtains will keep most of the bugs out while not letting too many bugs in. Pair with a cheap tension rod if you don't already have mounts of curtains (or use pushpins or tape or something).
posted by mskyle at 9:54 AM on December 28, 2017

Mosquito netting for your bed. Fans not only disperse your CO2 exhalation, skeeters dislike moving air, so a fan in your bedroom is a help. Sheer mesh curtains act as screens. I live in Maine and skeeters love me. I have a couple shirts and loose pants with lots of deet and picaridin on them so I don't have to put deet on all of my my skin. I use one of these mesh door screens linked above and it works well. The 5 most effective insect repellents according to Consumer Reports I tried letting myself get bitten to build an immunity to bites, and it hasn't worked for me, but the bites itch a little less at the end of the season.
posted by theora55 at 11:10 AM on December 28, 2017

If you shave your legs stop doing so. Having hairy legs makes a substantial difference in insects finding a comfortable landing surface on your skin to bite you.
posted by Jane the Brown at 3:06 PM on December 28, 2017

yohko: Unfortunately, I seem to be the tastiest one. The others think I'm overreacting though they have noticed the critters flitting about and have sprayed insecticide at them. Either they don't get bitten as much or the bites don't bother them.

I wish I knew for sure whether folk remedies like ACV really work. I probably need to drink it through a straw to protect my teeth though. Are there any studies on this?

Has anyone used one of those smoke-less plug-ins? I'm concerned about the long term effects of breathing in allethrin though. Maybe it's worse than DEET or picaridin on my skin.
posted by whitelotus at 5:53 AM on December 29, 2017

theora55: I may try your tip with the Deet on the loose pants instead of my skin. Why didn't I think of it?
posted by whitelotus at 5:59 AM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

yohko: Unfortunately, I seem to be the tastiest one.

Eat two cloves of raw garlic a day and see if that changes. If it does, don't tell the others your secret.
posted by yohko at 9:49 PM on December 31, 2017

yohko: I got bitten thrice in the morning and have just eaten half a bulb of garlic. I now have garlic breath.

I will start eating 3 cloves of garlic + black Zhenjiang rice vinegar every day. Will report back to say if the bloodsuckers are repelled by me.
posted by whitelotus at 4:37 AM on January 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Update: The raw garlic and vinegar doesn't work. The mozzies landed on my delicious legs anyway though I was eating plenty of it.
posted by whitelotus at 7:21 PM on January 16, 2018

Have you tried the Lace Curtains of Death?
posted by flabdablet at 8:37 PM on January 16, 2018

flabdablet: It is a cool idea but I am not allowed to install any curtain rods or curtains of any kind since the apartment is not mine. Plus the other people's laundry hanging habits.
posted by whitelotus at 1:06 AM on January 17, 2018

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