Part of the show Plant Science, Composting and Mosquito Repellents
Linda in Norwich asked:
I'm curious about why some people get bitten more than others. In summer I can have some quite good bites on me. Is there any way that I can change my diet to prevent being bitten in this way?
That's a very good question. I think that it's not just attraction that can give you bites. It can depend on whether you show a good response when the fly or mosquito gets there, such as if you notice it or not and swat it away. But in terms of attraction, you can take certain things in your diet. If you have very strong plant smelling chemicals in your diet that come through the skin, such as with garlic, then these can put off some flies. They're obviously carnivorous, so they don't want to come to somebody smelling very strongly of plants. However, it's not very reliable. Although quite a lot of the mosquito repellents we use commercially are based on that kind of effect, they're really not that good and the mosquitoes can break through because they can see the attractant chemical through the ones we try to mask ourselves with. That's why it's been very important to look at individual human beings to find out how it is that some of us are actually repellent to mosquitoes and other flies.