garlic and insects

To: Birding-Aus Mail <>
Subject: garlic and insects
From: (Richard Johnson)
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000 10:28:40 +1000
Eating lots of garlic is great for keeping mozzies and sand
flies at
bay. Sweating garlic keep these insects off your skin. My uncle
told me
this when he was shooting a commercial in dense rainforest in
or Indonesia.

I've heard this before, Lorne, and I have to ask "how much garlic is
'lots'?". A clove a day, a bulb a day? I eat garlic several time a week
and still am getting chewed by the blasted sandflies that have emerged
in force following a couple of weeks of rain here at Roma. Mind you,
perhaps I'm getting bitten less than I might be if I ate no garlic. And
I haven't been bitten by a vampire in years.

I think the only 'cure' for the irritation of mozzie and sandfly bites
is to get bitten so often you stop noticing it and more importantly your
immune system stops reacting so strongly. This worked for me as an
inveterate haunter of mangrove creeks in NQ - I simply stopped noticing
all but the most ferocious attacks. I find that this has transferred to
the mozzies of SE and SW Qld but unhappily not to the sandflies here (a
different species to the coastal sandfly or biting midge). There is a
serious drawback to this 'mind over matter' strategy of course - mozzies
carry all sorts of nasty viruses. In the case of Ross River Virus, most
folk exposed to the virus develop antibodies but remain asympomatic (I'm
one of those) but if you're one of the unfortunate ones, RRV can be
severely debilitating. Dengue fever, Murray Valley encephalitis,
Japanese encephalitis, the list goes on. There's a very good case for
chemical repellants.

An interesting solution to bities, with some empirical evidence to back
it up, is to take along someone who has rarely or never experienced
mozzies or sandflies. Some of my old fishing mates swore that a Pom in
the boat was the way to go  -they seemed to attract the mozzies which
left alone the more experienced ones. If true, this suggests that over
time the bodies of  people exposed to biting insects may produce some
defences against insects - a change in body odour, perhaps? I have
doubts about this theory, though. The less-experienced person would
probably complain a lot more, hence be perceived to be bitten a lot, but
not neccessarily be bitten more. The whole thing is more likely an
excuse for a bit of sadism!

Richard Johnson
Habitat Case Studies Project Officer
Qld Parks & Wildlife Service
Southwest District
Tel: (07) 4622 4266  Fax: (07) 46 22 4151

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