The Zika fight is on in the U.S. and not just in Florida, where the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 351 cases, 15 of which were home-grown in the Miami area.
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People all across the country are taking matters into their own hands with alternative measures from eating garlic to wearing more Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume to help prevent mosquito bites. One town in Long Island, New York is even recruiting bats by installing bat houses throughout parks and is encouraging residents to hang “bat boxes” around their homes.
“We’re seeking out alternative ways to control the pest problem here. And our bats here aren't vampire bats, they won't suck your blood,” Carole Trottere, director of communications of the Town of North Hempstead tells FOXBusiness.com. “They come out at night and eat mosquitoes for us.”
Bats are famously natural predators of mosquitoes. According to some experts, one bat can gobble up to 1,000 mosquitoes in a single hour. Although bats eat mosquitoes, the Aedes aegypti strain that carries the Zika virus tends to be most active during the day, when bats are usually asleep.
“Bats as well as other natural predators are not a good mosquito control. Bats, dragonflies, other insectivorous creatures are opportunists meaning that they will feed on whatever is in the environment. Sometimes that opportunistic feeding behavior can mean mosquitoes but mostly larger prey items are desirable,” Ben Prather, director of Cass County Vector Control in North Dakota tells FOXBusiness.com.
If installing bat cages isn’t your thing, another tactic could be reaching for your Victoria’s Secret (NYSE:LB) Bombshell perfume or Avon’s (NYSE:AVP) Skin So Soft Bath Oil. Both, according to a study from researchers at New Mexico State University, serve as repellents.
“In my study, Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume and ASSS Bath Oil did significantly reduce the overall attraction of the mosquito to the human in tests performed with Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever and Zika vector mosquito,” Stacy Rodriquez, M.S., who performed the study last year, tells FOXBusiness.com. “While they did work better than some of the repellents tested, they were not as effective as Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus and Repel 100 Insect repellent.”
In a statement to FOXBusiness.com, Avon says the product was actually not intended to repel mosquitoes or sold for that purpose and is not approved by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as a repellent. Though the company does offer several DEET-free repellents in their Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus line of products.
Stephanie Tourles, herbalist and author of the book, “Naturally Bug-Free: 75 Nontoxic Recipes for Repelling Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas, Ants, Moths & Other Pesky Insects,” says your likeliness of attracting mosquitoes could depend on your diet too.
“Consumption of foods and herbs traditionally known to repel bugs such as garlic, onions, lemons, oranges, peppermint, thyme, basil, savory, rosemary, bay leaves and peppers such as black and cayenne, infuse your body with certain chemical constituents that mosquitoes find repugnant, making you less appealing as a food source,” says Tourles. “Tobacco is also considered a mosquito-repelling herb and cigarette and cigar smokers tend to receive far fewer bites than non-smokers . . . but, no one is suggesting that you start that unhealthy habit just to avoid being bitten!”
One study by the Public Library of Science (PLOS) published in 2010 even suggested that beer consumption is a risk factor for attracting mosquitoes — specifically malaria infested ones.
“I would say that the elevated body temps, rosy cheeks and throwing ethanol into your metabolism would be part of the cause,” Prather adds. “Most of this research has not been highly peer reviewed.”
But Joseph Colon of the American Mosquito Control Association says there is no scientific evidence that eating garlic, vitamins, or any other food will make a person repellent to mosquitoes.
“Certain foods in certain individuals may affect their individual attractiveness to biting arthropods, for better or for worse,” he says. “Limburger cheese (as are smelly socks) is attractive to mosquitoes as well.”
Experts say the key to stopping the Zika spread is getting rid of standing water around your home where mosquitoes breed.