Can Mosquitoes Smell? What Scents Do They Love and Hate?

Posted by Mosquito Squad
Can Mosquitoes Smell? What Scents Do They Love and Hate?

August 22, 2023

Mosquitoes are masters at using fine-tuned senses, including their sense of smell, to detect mammals to feed on. Not only are mosquitoes attracted to sweet and fruity smells, but they can even sense carbon dioxide and lactic acid! Our noses don’t come close to measuring up against a mosquito.

Luckily, we know what smells mosquitoes love and despise. Knowing these scents can help you stay one step ahead of the bug’s smell detection and maybe even pick your next cologne or perfume more strategically.

How Do Mosquitoes Smell?

A mosquito’s scent journey begins with sensitive antennae covered in tiny sensory structures called sensilla. These sensilla have receptors that detect odors in the air created by a warm-blooded host. When odor receptors catch a scent, they send signals to the mosquito’s brain. The mosquito follows the odor and uses other sensory cues, such as heat and humidity, to guide its flight toward the source of the scent.

Some scents are more likely to attract a mosquito to you than others. Let’s check out some of their favorite smells!

What Smells Do Mosquitoes Like?

There are many scents that attract mosquitoes, including:

  • Floral scents
  • Fruity or sweet fragrances
  • Human or animal sweat

Additionally, while they’re not considered to be odors, carbon dioxide and lactic acid attract mosquitoes.

If it feels like mosquitoes are particularly drawn to you, you could be right! They may like the smell of your lotion or another scented product – an easy fix. However, some of your mosquito-attracting functions are just part of being human; you can’t control releasing lactic acid when you’re working out or creating more carbon dioxide when you’re pregnant.

Here are tips for reducing certain smells to stop attracting so many mosquitoes!

Don’t Let Lactic Acid Linger

When we work up a sweat, our bodies release lactic acid, a metabolic byproduct. Mosquitoes can detect lactic, which is why they may target those who are actively exercising or sweating more. Sweat can linger on the skin and clothing, so make sure you shower soon after workouts and wash your workout clothes with an effective detergent. Additionally, eating foods with magnesium may reduce the buildup of lactic acid.

Reduce Floral and Fruity Fragrances

Sweet and flowery scents in perfumes, lotions, deodorants, and shampoos can make you more enticing to mosquitoes. Similarly, mosquitoes enjoy the aromas of ripe fruits, such as citrus, mangoes, and bananas. Try using only subtly scented or unscented products on your skin and hair if you’re going to spend a lot of time outside. If you pack a picnic, keep your basket or cooler sealed before and after the meal.

Just as some smells can attract mosquitoes, other smells can also deter them. From planting flowers with these scents, to using candles, and wearing certain perfumes, you can incorporate mosquito-repelling scents into your daily life to keep the bugs away!

What Smells Do Mosquitoes Hate?

Smells that naturally keep mosquitoes away include peppermint, lavender, lemongrass, and garlic. Here’s how to use these scents for their bug-repelling properties:

  • Peppermint—Using peppermint essential oil products or planting peppermint plants around your outdoor space can deter mosquitoes.
  • Lavender—Try planting lavender, using lavender essential oil, or keeping dried lavender sprigs in your bag or car to keep mosquitoes at bay.
  • Lemongrass or citrus—Lemongrass contains citral, a compound that mosquitoes find unpleasant, so consider planting lemongrass or using lemongrass essential oil. Other citrusy smells, like orange, may also help repel mosquitoes.
  • Garlic—The pungent smell of garlic can act as a natural mosquito repellent. Consuming garlic may make you less appealing to mosquitoes.

Extra fun tip: Mosquitoes also dislike the smell of rosemary. Pack some rosemary and garlic bread for your next picnic!

The Ultimate Way to Keep Bugs Far, Far Away

While you don’t have much control over lactic acid or carbon dioxide output, understanding the scents that attract mosquitoes can help you take measures to minimize mosquito encounters. Avoid heavily sweet-scented products, maintain good hygiene to reduce lingering sweat, or plant certain herbs around your yard.

But those methods aren’t always fully effective or convenient. What else can be done?

Get a traditional mosquito barrier treatment or a natural treatment from your local Mosquito Squad experts! Our professional services will keep mosquitoes away from your yard for up to 21 days. Let’s get your yard totally protected. Contact us today for a free quote, or call us at (877) 332-2239!