What is the best way to avoid mosquitoes? Is it true that soap and perfume excite them?

—Caro D

Well, the best way to avoid mosquitoes would be to stay indoors between May and September, but we assume you don’t want to do that. And yes, it’s true that strong-smelling soaps, lotions, hair products, deodorants, and perfumes attract them. Along with nixing these products while in mosquito country, you can: Cover up—wear light-coloured, long-sleeved clothing and mosquito netting; avoid hanging around standing water, where mosquitoes breed; fire up the citronella candles when you’re on the dock or deck (but keep in mind that, according to Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, these candles only ward off mosquitoes at very close range); and wear your DEET. Bug repellents with DEET are still considered more effective than any natural products; in one comparison study, the bug spray with a DEET concentration of 24 per cent repelled mossies for five hours. Most plant-derived repellants, on the other hand, worked for only 20 minutes. In general, the higher the DEET concentration, the more, well, repulsive—but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, DEET’s effectiveness plateaus at a concentration of about 50 per cent.

One more tip: Consuming (or steering clear of) certain foods won’t attract or deter mosquitoes, so there’s no sense in scarfing garlic before your next cottage visit. Unless you’re also trying to avoid your boyfriend.