Photo (cc) by John Tann
Mosquitoes love me. But the feeling isn’t mutual. Unfortunately, I live in an area with irrigated cropland, ponds and pools of sitting water — basically a mosquito heaven — so my standard summer “perfume” is eau de insect repellent.
But my summer scent could change.
According to research by New Mexico State University published in the Journal of Insect Science, Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume — described as a fruity floral fragrance with notes of purple passion fruit, Shangri-La peony and vanilla orchid — is just as effective, if not more effective, at protecting against those pesky blood-suckers as some commercial insect repellents.
When researchers tested the pink bottle of Bombshell perfume alongside eight insect repellents, one other fragrance and a vitamin B patch, the perfume (used in heavy concentrations) had “strong repellent” effects against the two types of mosquitoes in the test: the yellow fever mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito.
“There was some previous literature that said fruity, floral scents attracted mosquitoes, and to not wear those,” said Stacy Rodriquez, research assistant in NMSU’s Molecular Vector Physiology Lab. “It was interesting to see that the mosquitoes weren’t actually attracted to the person that was wearing the Victoria’s Secret perfume — they were repelled by it.”
But before you head to the mall to pick up a $52 bottle of perfume, the researchers said that based on their experiments (and other experts’ tests), the best protection against mosquitoes comes from repellents containing 30 to 95 percent DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus, which cost closer to $5 a bottle.
Dr. Richard Pollack, a public health entomologist at Harvard University and co-founder of IdentifyUS, a pest identification and guidance service, told Today.com that while he considers the study to be a “mildly interesting preliminary note,” it’s important to remember that factors such as an individual’s own genetic attractiveness to mosquitoes could also have played a role in the research results.
“I would not recommend the use of perfume or alternative products as insect repellent,” Pollack told Today. “These products, in general, neither have received sufficient scrutiny of their safety, nor demonstrated significant efficacy as insect repellents.”
Check out: “5 Best Repellents for Zika Virus Mosquitoes.” The kind that carry the Zika virus are Aedes mosquitoes.
If you’re looking for an insect repellent that is free of toxic chemicals and performs on par with or better than DEET, a natural remedy used by Native Americans for centuries may be the answer to your (mosquito bite free) dreams.
For tips on warding off mosquitoes and other pesky insects, check out these “Thrifty Ways to Keep Summer Bugs Away.”
How do you protect your skin from mosquitoes? Share your tips below or on our Facebook page.