4 Secrets to Stopping Bug Bites

By Jessica Girdwain, REDBOOK

Why does it feel like every insect within 30 miles has you in its crosshairs, while your husband is blissfully unbitten? Some of us attract more pests, says Kansas State University entomologist Raymond Cloyd, Ph.D. "It depends on your unique odors," he says - and how much you breathe and sweat: "Mosquitoes use carbon dioxide and lactic acid in sweat to find us." DEET sprays are your best defense, but when you can't or don't want to use chemicals, these oddball tricks work too.

Related: The Best Tactics to Bedbug-Proof Your House

Put a dryer sheet in each pocket.
Gardeners told Cloyd for years that Bounce kept bugs away, so he tested the theory and found that a dryer sheet repelled up to 36 percent of insects. "Bounce contains linalool, a plant compound that's toxic to bugs," he says. Having a picnic? Light a Yankee Candle Conceal Outdoor Mosquito Candle, which contains linalool.

Blend in.
Bright colors, especially yellow and blue, attract insects. Lucky for you, neutrals are big for summer! But pick a little beige dress over black: Dark clothes look like yummy animal hides to mosquitoes, says Sharon Lawler, Ph.D., professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis.

Related: What's Up With That Rash?

Sip wine or iced tea.
Beer and soda are mosquito magnets, says Lawler. The bugs are attracted to the carbonation. Burping also draws in bugs. (Hey, maybe that will get your 9-year-old to stop. Maybe.)

Zap 'em.
Not the bugs - the bites. Therapik (therapik.com) is an FDA-approved handheld device that delivers heat to bites, neutralizing venom and cutting down on itching.

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