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While bubble machines can repel mosquitoes, that’s because of the fans inside the machines, not the bubbles themselves.
In many parts of the country, warm summer weather doesn’t just mean playing outside and days at the pool – it also means fending off mosquitoes.
Social media is swarming with “natural” tricks to repel mosquitoes. Posts on multiple social media platforms, liked hundreds of thousands of times and viewed millions of times, are claiming that bubbles will repel mosquitoes.
Do bubbles repel mosquitoes?
No, bubbles do not repel mosquitoes.
WHAT WE FOUND
Bubbles do not have any properties that act as a mosquito repellent and there is no evidence they keep mosquitoes at bay, says Floyd Shockley, Ph.D., an entomologist at the National Museum of Natural History.
“There’s no particular reason why bubbles of any kind would have a particular impact on mosquitoes,” Shockley said.
The theory, according to various online blog posts and articles about mosquito hacks, is that bubbles are an effective repellent because mosquitoes don’t like soap solutions, which are used to make bubbles, or their smells. But there are a few problems with that theory.
Shockley explained that mosquitoes find humans through a combination of carbon dioxide and our normal body odors. That doesn’t change just because there’s something else with a different smell nearby.
Plus, mosquitoes are attracted to floral scents, which are common in soaps, as well as many other fragrant scents used in soap products, the Cleveland Clinic says.
“If you get a whole bunch of this bubble mixture on you, and you happen to be already predisposed to being attractive to mosquitoes, you could actually make things worse,” Shockley said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not list bubbles or soap among the EPA-registered insect repellents proven to be both safe and effective.
But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does keep a list of unregistered insect repellants, which the CDC says haven’t been tested and confirmed to be safe and effective. That list includes some ingredients, like citronella oil, that may be found in some soaps, particularly those that claim to be mosquito-repellent.
A powerful enough bubble machine might help keep some mosquitoes away, but it’s not because of the bubbles.
Mosquitoes are poor flyers, Shockley says, and therefore don’t like to fly in the wind. Terminix, a pest control company, adds that fans can disperse carbon dioxide and odors that mosquitoes use to locate you.
So if the fan in a bubble machine is strong enough, you might see slightly fewer mosquitoes while you run it than you would otherwise.
“But you can accomplish the same thing without the bubbles just by putting up fans around the area that you want to be socializing in,” Shockley said.