19

I have heard claims that garlic repels mosquitoes.

Specifically, this site claims that

Eating a diet heavy in onions and garlic can make you unattractive to mosquitoes.

Is there any evidence supporting that claim?

  • One study I have found links to have found no effects: altmedicine.about.com/od/aznaturalremedyindex/a/… University of Connecticut study examined this claim with a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled crossover study. The data didn't provide evidence of significant mosquito repellence. However, subjects only consumed garlic once, and the researchers say that more prolonged ingestion may be needed." Vitamin B is another popular repellent, this site claims it to be ineffective as well. – Suma Apr 26 '11 at 13:56
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    Everybody knows that garlic repels vampires, not mosquitoes ;-) – Sklivvz Apr 26 '11 at 14:29
  • @Skliwz With Vampire Melons out there i guess mosquitoes could be like Vampire flies. – Stefan Aug 15 '12 at 20:14
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My answer is that it is a myth. To quote this study:

Most alternatives to topically applied repellents have proved to be ineffective. No ingested compound, including garlic and thiamine (vitamin B1), has been found to be capable of repelling biting arthropods.26-28 Small, wearable devices that emit sounds that are purported to be abhorrent to biting mosquitoes have also been proved to be ineffective.29 In our study, wristbands impregnated with either DEET or citronella similarly provided no protection from bites, consistent with the known inability of repellents to protect beyond 4 cm from the site of application.

The above comes from:

Comparative Efficacy of Insect Repellents against Mosquito Bites Mark S. Fradin, M.D., and John F. Day, Ph.D. N Engl J Med 2002; 347:13-18July 4, 2002

10

Note: I didn't quite finish this answer before Ardesco's was posted. I'm posting this anyway, since it gives another couple sources.

Garlic does contain some essential oils that are larvicidal to mosquitos (i.e., the oil will kill mosquito larvae on contact). Therefore, there might be a chance that rubbing garlic on one's self might repel mosquitos, however, the smell would likely also repel humans ;-)

As for whether or not eating garlic provides any significant repellence to mosquitos, a double-blind placebo controlled trial of garlic as a mosquito repellant by Rajan, et al., concluded the following

The data did not provide evidence of significant systemic mosquito repellence.

The authors did note, however, that prolonged ingestion of garlic was not studied.

0

According to this site (http://www.garlic-central.com/mosquito.html) it does indeed work (and here's another one http://www.mosquito-netting.com/2007-09-natural-mosquito-repellent.html). Neither of them reference any scientific study though, and a quick search didn't turn one up (but it could of course be such things are too old to be on the net).

And another one: http://www.wildernesscollege.com/plants-that-repel-mosquitoes.html

Here's a site (one of many) selling garlic based mozzie repellant: http://www.mosquitobarrier.com/

However this site (http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/10/garlic_superstitions_folklore.html) lists it under folklore, but again without reference.

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    While it is good that your first link has the following disclaimer added to the site: "This is not a medical site. Information on this page is provided on a "best efforts" basis for interest only and does not constitute personal advice. It is essential that you discuss medical matters with your doctor. " It doesn't exactly fill me with confidence that thier answer is correct... – Ardesco Apr 26 '11 at 14:25
  • true, though I wouldn't call effectiveness of a substance in acting as a mosquito repellent a medical issue :) – jwenting Apr 27 '11 at 6:10
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    Well I think you are splitting hairs a bit there, the intention is obviously to provide advice but warn the user that there is no medical grounding in the advice so check with your doctor anyway. When it comes to using an effective repellant to protect against the risk of catching something that can be passed on to you by a mosquito (e.g. malaria) I would clasify that under the remit of medical advice. – Ardesco Apr 27 '11 at 7:51

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