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Victoria’s Secret perfume is an effective mosquito repellent, study suggests

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Victoria’s Secret perfume is an effective mosquito repellent: study
WATCH: Scientists surprisingly discovered that the Victoria's Secret perfume Bombshell was also an effective repellent – Jun 8, 2016

You’re preparing for a day-long hike with your trail mix, water bottle and — Victoria’s Secret perfume? A study that looked at which mosquito repellents work best found that one of the lingerie company’s signature scents is good at keeping the bloodsuckers at bay.

It’s a quirky finding scientists out of New Mexico State University didn’t think they’d uncover — they threw in Bombshell, a Victoria’s Secret perfume, thinking its sweet fragrance would lure mosquitoes.

The researchers zeroed in on eight commercially available mosquito repellents, including three sprays that had DEET as the active ingredient. The products with DEET were:

  • Repel 100 Insect Repellent
  • OFF Deep Woods Insect Repellent VIII
  • Cutter Skinsations Insect Repellent

While the DEET-free bug repellents included:

  • Cutter Natural Insect Repellent
  • EcoSmart Organic Insect Repellent
  • Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
  • Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard

The researchers threw in two fragrances — Avon Skin So Soft Bath Oil and Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume — along with a vitamin B1-based Mosquito Skin Patch.

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READ MORE: Why some Canadians are more prone to mosquito bites than others

“We tested VS Bombshell because one of our test subjects had gotten it as a birthday present, so it was a completely random pick. Since it smells flowery and sweet, we thought that it would attract mosquitoes, but the reverse was true,” Immo Hansen, one of the study’s authors, told TODAY.

The products were then tested against two kinds of mosquito species: the yellow fever mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito. Both common species carry dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever and other diseases.

Volunteers held out a scented hand as researchers pushed 20 mosquitoes through a tube. Once the mosquitoes were released, they’d either fly toward the hand if they were drawn to the scent or stay in place.

Turns out, DEET drove the mosquitoes away, but the non-DEET options had “little to no effect” on the yellow fever mosquito. The lemon eucalyptus product was the only one that worked as well as the DEET repellents.

DEET is a chemical spray that can confuse mosquitoes’ olfactory receptors and throw them off. They may be near you, but they won’t necessarily bite.

READ MORE: Should Canadians worry about Zika virus?

Both the bath oil and the perfume kept the mosquitoes at bay for about two hours. The scientists guess that the perfume could provide a masking effect, but they admit, they were using “high concentrations” of the perfume.

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Keep in mind, the perfume comes with a $52 price tag, while a bottle of bug spray is about $10.

The Asian tiger mosquitoes didn’t like the perfume, either. The skin patch, which is supposed to keep the bugs at bay for up to 36 hours, didn’t repel either species, the study warns.

Mosquitoes have poor vision and rely on their sense of smell, according to Dr. Carl Lowenberger, a biology professor at Simon Fraser University in B.C. with decades of experience in studying mosquitoes.

Once they’re close to us, they sniff out sweat, heat and the carbon dioxide we breathe out, he says.

There are urban myths aplenty — if you have sweet blood, mosquitoes may find you tastier, which is among the more popular sayings.

It’s not true, though. Mosquitoes can’t distinguish blood quality.

READ MORE: What you need to know about sunscreen and protecting your skin

So far, studies haven’t been able to link any relationship in eating certain foods to lure mosquitoes (bananas) or keep them away (garlic).

“Some people argue you shouldn’t eat certain fruits or vegetables or eat garlic,” Lowenberger  told Global News.

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Garlic excretes compounds through our kidneys and urine. You’d have to consume a lot of garlic to get concentrations so high that it would be secreted through the skin.

So what can you do to protect yourself from mosquito bites?

Public health officials say people should avoid the outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes seem to be on the prowl.

Other studies suggest wearing light clothes, but Lowenberger isn’t sure if that’s the case.

Some experts even recommend showering or rinsing away sweat, or changing out of dirty clothes.

And make sure you apply DEET.

Read the full study in the Journal of Insect Science.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

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