Joyfull Living – July 2017
Mosquitoes really do prefer some people to others, says Dr. Jonathan Day, a medical entomologist and mosquito expert at the University of Florida. Some of it is genetic, like your blood type. Their preferred blood type is O. Other genetic factors play a part, like your metabolic rate, which dictates the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) your body releases as it burns energy. “Pregnant women and overweight or obese people tend to have higher resting metabolic rates, which may make them more attractive to mosquitoes,” Dr. Day explains. After eating a big meal, running or weight lifting, for example, your metabolic rate will go up, as will your levels of CO2. This makes you the preferred target of mosquitoes. Another factor that is not genetic that can make you more attractive to these winged biters is the consumption of alcohol, especially if you do anything aerobic around the same time. So cocktails and dancing should be done indoors, especially at dawn or dusk, which is the most active time for these critters.
There are other cues that mosquitoes use to find their favorite hosts that you can do something about. The biggest one that has recently been studied is stress management. Researchers from the Martin Lab at the University of South Florida are investigating how hormones in the blood may influence mosquito-feeding preferences in birds. Stephanie Gervasi, a postdoctoral researcher from the group, did a study to see how steroid hormones that are released from the adrenals and circulated throughout the body during times of stress impact the mosquitoes feeding patterns. The study showed that mosquitoes prefer stressed blood. The study also showed that mosquitoes that fed on stressed birds laid more eggs, and those stressed blood eggs hatched more quickly than those feeding on healthy, unstressed populations of birds. Managing your stress could help you be less susceptible to bites and help keep the mosquito population down, too. Think about that the next time you are too busy for your self-care routine. This research gives my quote, “When you make time for inner peace, you are contributing to world peace,” a whole new meaning!
This is a great bonus benefit for Yoga and Meditation practitioners. Slowing down the breath and relaxing the body and mind will slow down your metabolic rate so you produce less CO2. In the JoyFull Yoga classes you get your heart rate up with the dynamic movement practice so you can burn calories in an environment that is protected from mosquitoes and then reduce the levels of CO2 before you leave the class by going into a deep relaxation. Taking time to rest after exercise is an important part of creating more balance in your body and in your life and may help keep you from becoming a preferred meal for mosquitoes.
Dr. Day suggests that there are some other things you can do to be less attractive to mosquitoes:
- Wear light-colored clothing. Mosquitoes are not good flyers even in a slight breeze, so they tend to stay close to the ground and find their prey by seeing the contrast on the horizon. Dark clothes make you easy to spot, while light-colored clothes blend in.
- Also, less-exposed skin will cut down on the bites. Wear light, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Moving around makes you an easier target to find, especially if you wear dark clothes, so relax and take time to be still.
- Using a fan pointed in your general vicinity will also do a great job of keeping the bugs away. “Mosquitoes can’t fly in a breeze faster than 1 mile per hour,” Day says. If you have one of our Air Revitalizers (available at Pico’s and JoyFull Yoga) with Lemongrass Aroma Essence, it will clear out mosquitoes around you.
- Eat foods rich in thiamine or B1. For example: fish, seeds, nuts, squash, peas, asparagus are highest in B1.
- Foods to avoid: beer, salty foods and sweet sugary foods all seem to attract mosquitoes.
This is a great time of year to make time to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature and practice creating more harmony in your body and mind. Make time to breathe gently and relax. It can bring you the added benefit of having less mosquito bites.