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Out of Bug Spray? Try Victoria’s Secret Perfume

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Summer may be long gone in the Western Hemisphere, but that’s no reason to let your guard down. Before you know it, the mosquitoes will be back, but this time, you can be prepared. Scientists tested the mosquito-repelling powers of 10 substances. Most of the results confirmed what we already know, but there was one big surprise: Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume makes a pretty decent bug spray.

The mosquito is more than just a pest. With its syringe-like proboscis and taste for blood, it’s the perfect carrier for deadly diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and West Nile virus. Some researchers are working fast to find cures for these conditions while others are trying to figure out how to keep the mosquitoes from biting in the first place.

That group includes Stacy Rodriguez, a research assistant at New Mexico State University’s Vector Physiology Lab. “Not all repellents are created equal—unfortunately they’re advertised as such,” Rodriguez said in a press release this week. “It’s important to let consumers know what’s actually effective.”

Rodriguez and her colleagues dropped mosquitoes into the tail of a Y-shaped tube to give them a choice between a naked human hand and a hand sprayed with a chemical compound. The study included two mosquito species, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, and 10 compounds, eight of which were commercially available mosquito repellents. The other two substances were fragrances: Avon’s Skin So Soft bath oil and Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume. 

Unsurprisingly, the bug sprays with DEET were the most successful in keeping mosquitoes away. Sorry, moms: Avon's Skin So Soft Bug Guard was pretty much useless. A vitamin B1 patch, marketed as a “natural” alternative to bug spray, was not just ineffective—it actually attracted the little bloodsuckers.

And then there was Bombshell. Historically, studies have shown that floral and fruity scents attract mosquitoes, and bite-prone people were cautioned to stay away from perfume. But this perfume has both floral and fruity notes, and it kept mosquitoes away for more than two hours.

The two mosquito species responded differently to some of the compounds. A bug spray called EcoSmart stopped repelling Ae. aegypti after a half hour, but kept Ae. albopictus away for more than four hours. Both species, however, hated the Bombshell.

The research was published in the Journal of Insect Research. 

Be forewarned if you’re going to attempt the perfume-as-bug-spray route: the researchers used a lot of perfume in this experiment. “Lower concentrations of the same fragrance might have different effects,” they wrote. So though the perfume will work as mosquito repellent, you may also run the risk of repelling everyone else around you with your fruity perfume cloud. 

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Beyond the Label: How to Pick the Right Medicines For Your Cold and Flu Symptoms
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The average household spends an annual total of $338 on various over-the-counter medicines, with consumers making around 26 pharmacy runs each year, according to 2015 data from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. To save cash and minimize effort (here's why you'd rather be sleeping), the Cleveland Clinic recommends avoiding certain cold and flu products, and selecting products containing specific active ingredients.

Since medicine labels can be confusing (lots of people likely can’t remember—let alone spell—words like cetirizine, benzocaine, or dextromethorphan), the famous hospital created an interactive infographic to help patients select the right product for them. Click on your symptom, and you’ll see ingredients that have been clinically proven to relieve runny or stuffy noses, fevers, aches, and coughs. Since every medicine is different, you’ll also receive safety tips regarding dosage levels, side effects, and the average duration of effectiveness.

Next time you get sick, keep an eye out for these suggested elements while comparing products at the pharmacy. In the meantime, a few pro tips: To avoid annoying side effects, steer clear of multi-symptom products if you think just one ingredient will do it for you. And while you’re at it, avoid nasal sprays with phenylephrine and cough syrups with guaifenesin, as experts say they may not actually work. Cold and flu season is always annoying—but it shouldn’t be expensive to boot.

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Why You Might Not Want to Order Tea or Coffee On Your Next Flight
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A cup of tea or coffee at 40,000 feet may sound like a great way to give yourself an extra energy boost during a tiring trip, but it might be healthier to nap away your fatigue—or at least wait until hitting ground to indulge in a caffeine fix. Because, in addition to being tepid and watery, plane brew could be teeming with germs and other harmful life forms, according to Business Insider.

Multiple studies and investigations have taken a closer look at airplane tap water, and the results aren’t pretty—or appetizing. In 2002, The Wall Street Journal conducted a study that looked at water samples taken from 14 different flights from 10 different airlines. Reporters discovered “a long list of microscopic life you don’t want to drink, from Salmonella and Staphylococcus to tiny insect eggs," they wrote.

And they added, "Worse, contamination was the rule, not the exception: Almost all of the bacteria levels were tens, sometimes hundreds, of times above U.S. government limits."

A 2004 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that water supplies on 15 percent of 327 national and international commercial aircrafts were contaminated to varying degrees [PDF]. This all led up to the 2011 Aircraft Drinking Water Rule, an EPA initiative to make airlines clean up. But in 2013, an NBC investigation found that at least one out of every 10 commercial U.S. airplanes still had issues with water contamination.

Find out how airplane water gets so gross, and why turning water into coffee or tea isn’t enough to kill residual germs by watching Business Insider’s video below.

[h/t Business Insider]

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