Does Garlic repel Mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes have almost no olfactory powers whatsoever--they have, in fact, a very selective and narrow olfactory "spectrum". But this is actually irrelevant; you see, the way a mosquito "repellent" works is NOT by being detected and driving insects away, but by blocking their ability to smell things that otherwise would attract them, so they ignore you. (In the same way, household "deodorizers" don't actually eliminate odors, but merely block your ability to smell them.) In the case of mosquitoes, the primary attractants that have been identified are CO2 and lactic acid, though there are other factors. The best substance yet found to block mosquitoes' powers of detection is DEET, and while a few repellents are equal over a short term, nothing even comes close in terms of residual repellency; DEET's effects can last for several hours, whereas even the best alternative repellents last at most about 2 hours, maybe 3, if you're lucky and the conditions are right. Garlic is only one of a list of plant compounds with similar "repellent" effects, including citronella, cedar, verbena, geranium, lavender, pine, cinnamon, rosemary, basil, thyme, allspice, and peppermint. But again, these substances have a very limited efficacy, in terms of duration, and if you are going to be exposed to mosquitoes for more than an hour or two, you should get a good DEET-based spray or lotion and stick with it. Products with 10% to 35% DEET should be fine under most conditions, and anything over 50% is overkill, except in unusual circumstances in which insect biting pressures are truly intense, or under conditions of very high temperature and humidity (e.g., working in a tropical jungle - and I know this from first-hand experience!). Repellents with DEET may damage plastics (such as watch faces, eyeglasses and frames), spandex, leather, and painted surfaces, but don't damage natural fibers (cotton or wool) or nylon. Most importantly, there is...
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