why do mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears?

mosquitoesI’ve been thinking about this West African story I used to listen to on tape as a child, where the storyteller said the title in a high-pitched, lilting voice: WHY do mosquitoes BUZZ in people’s EARS?

Why? Because every night when I’m trying to fall asleep, I have a visit from this persistent mosquito. And it’s only May!

I’ve been starting some research on alternatives to DEET and other toxic bug repellents. (I provided the link to DEET on wikipedia, but there are many online resources about the relative safety or non-safety of DEET, and how to use it properly.)

Last summer, I found Starfish Oils’ “[no mosquito] aromatherapy body spray” to work pretty well, but I know mosquitoes attack some people much more voraciously than others, and I probably fall somewhere in the middle. I also found an interesting article on NaturoDoc about natural ways to deal with bug and a recipe for making your own repellent for the DIY inclined.

For those of us with outdoor space, there’s some intriguing options for planting plants that repel mosquitoes. According to this article I found from Iowa State University, lemon thyme is highly unpopular with mosquitoes, almost twice as much as citrosa plants. Also, this article for EarthEasy suggests planting marigolds and making sure not to leave any standing water around.

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2 responses to “why do mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears?

  1. There’s a continuum of mosquito repellents in Sri Lanka – my hipster friends use citronella oil/candles, my parents use a ‘mosquito coil’, a chemical concoction which emits fumes that are supposedly toxic to mosquitoes (no word on its long-term effects on humans), and the really traditional folk use this mysterious substance —apparently derived from acacia resin?— that they set on fire and use to ‘smoke out’ mosquitoes (it used to be a common sight in the evenings in Sri Lankan households: someone carrying a pan full of what looks like smoking charcoal around from room to room to scare away the mosquitoes). Notice the swing from a traditional, natural repellent to a supposedly highly-effective chemical compound back to a natural alternative, as people start to question what in God’s name is in those mosquito coils.

  2. Guerrilla Health

    Manique, this is fascinating! I want to get some of that mysterious substance for my BBQs…

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