Summer’s almost here, which means that in just a few short months, we’ll be sitting lakeside, flipping burgers on the grill, and dousing ourselves in DEET.
But if you’re not partial to the smell of traditional bug spray, you may be in luck: last fall, scientists stumbled upon a solution that works nearly as well—“Bombshell,” a perfume by Victoria’s Secret.
It may come as a surprise, since some believe that fruity, floral scents actually attract mosquitoes. But according to a team of researchers at New Mexico State’s Molecular Vector Physiology Lab, that’s just another mosquito-repelling myth.
To determine the efficacy of a variety of repellants, the researchers put approximately 20 mosquitos at the base of a Y-shaped tube. A volunteer then placed his hands, one of which was treated with repellent, on top of each opening. Once covered, the researchers released the mosquitoes into the tube and counted how many flocked to each hand.
Based on previous notions, the researchers were trying to use the perfume as a control, but to their surprise, the smells of purple passion fruit, shangri-la peony, and vanilla drove the mosquitoes away. In fact, the scent turned out to be almost as effective as repellents containing DEET, warding off mosquitoes for nearly two hours after it was applied.
What’s even more interesting, is that it was more effective than some of the other commercial repellents tested. According to the study, the perfume fared better than every one of the natural, DEET-free products, including Cutter Natural Insect Repellent, Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard, EcoSmart Organic Insect Repellent, and the vitamin B1-based Mosquito Skin Patch.
But even though wearing perfume may sound like an excellent alternative—especially for women who already do—researchers warn that they tested using extremely high volumes of it. And if it’s going to mean drenching yourself in the stuff, you might be better off to stick with DEET.