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Beer Increases Human Attractiveness to Malaria Mosquitoes

12 November 2012

Enjoying a Cold Beer or Wine This Summer Could Make Kiwis More Attractive To Biting Insects

According to international research, New Zealanders indulging in a couple of cold beers or wines this festive season should consider carrying an extra bottle of insect repellent with them. Multiple studies overseas over the past decade have shown that alcohol, including beer, makes the drinker more attractive to biting insects, especially mosquitoes.

According to one recent study led by scientists at the IRD Research Centre in Montpellier, France, mosquitoes are 15 per cent more likely to fly towards humans after they have consumed a pint or two. Researchers believe the pests are attracted to odour and breath changes caused by alcohol. They added that mosquitoes could have learned to associate the beer odour with an increased lack of defensiveness against bites from boozy drinkers.

Skin Technology, a Christchurch based skincare company, recently launched a nationwide Beat the Bite campaign to help Kiwis avoid attacks by biting insects. According to CEO, James Fraher, there are a number of ways to avoid becoming an insect’s latest meal, apart from steering clear of al fresco drinking.

“We have fantastic summers in New Zealand but biting insects, whether you’re camping, on the beach or enjoying a barbeque in the evening are probably one of the only downsides,” says James. “Mosquitoes in particular have an extremely fine tuned sense of smell so there are a few things you can do to deter them, including eating garlic. There are also certain plants that mosquitoes can't stand the scent of. The list includes catnip, rosemary, citronella grass, lavender, cinnamon, and peppermint-all good things to keep in mind as you're landscaping your backyard.”

James also recommends using a proven insect repellent to keep annoying sandflies and mozzies at bay. Preferably, one that doesn’t irritate the skin, is waterproof and is non-DEET based, if you are pregnant or using it on children.

“It’s vital that you keep some repellent around, especially if you’re spending time out in the bush or you’re out during dusk and dawn, mozzie peak times,” he explains. “Picaridin is universally recommended as an alternative to the well-known, but toxic, DEET for protection against mosquitoes, sandflies, ticks and other biting insects in New Zealand. Unlike DEET, it can be applied directly to the skin without any health concerns, on children as young as two years old, and will not dissolve your sunglass frames!”

James adds that New Zealand travellers should also remember to pack a reliable insect repellent when they heading on trips overseas. Potentially serious illnesses carried by mosquitoes, such as malaria, are not present in New Zealand but are a serious threat in other countries. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in the USA, estimates that there are 300-500 million cases of malaria each year, and more than 1 million people die from it. The World Health Organisation recommends picaridin as the best repellent for protection against malaria-carrying mosquitoes due to its safety, effectiveness, and cosmetic properties.

“You need to be confident you are protected, especially when going overseas,” says James. “The consequences could be far more serious than a few annoying bites.”

To keep up to date with the latest insect bite tips and advice, follow @BeatTheBiteNZ on Twitter.

Beat The Bite This Summer:

1) Eliminate standing water. Objects that can collect water provide for perfect breeding areas for mosquitoes. This includes plastic wrappers, tarps, tires, planter saucers, kids' toys and clogged gutters.

2) Keep it breezy. Mosquitoes don’t like strong wind currents; sitting next to a fan will keep the little pests away.

3) Keep it light. When considering your attire for outdoor activities, think white and light as mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours.

Alcohol Ingestion Stimulates Mosquito Attraction http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12083361

About Skin Technology
Skin Technology is a 100% New Zealand owned company with strong ethical, environmental and personal values. The Skin Technology team is passionate about investing in people and research and development with an end goal of making products more effective, safer for New Zealanders and their families and less harmful to our environment. Visit www.skintechnology.co.nz for more information.

ENDS

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