A few quick wipes might save you from a ton of itchy bites.

The key to enjoying a Japanese summer is knowing how to roll with the punches of some of the season’s less pleasant aspects. Sure, the weather is hot and humid, but there are few more pleasant sensations than sipping an ice-cold Asahi Super Dry or chomp on a Garigari-kun popsicle on a warm night. Even the high-pitched whine of the cicadas is something that many people develop an unexpected fondness for, since it accompanies the excited anticipation of sun-drenched adventures.

But you know something everyone hates about summer in Japan? The mosquitos. The little bloodsuckers show up in early June and stick around for the next three months, and just about anyone in the country can answer the question “What did you do on you summer vacation?” with “Got bit by a whole bunch of mosquitos.”

However, those looking for protection from the flying pests have been discussing an unusual strategy for warding off mosquitos: wiping off your feet.

Proponents have been recommending the tactic since as far back as 2016, thanks to the efforts of one loving brother’s desire to protect his little sister. Daiki Tagami, who was a high school student in Kyoto at the time, felt sorry for the huge number of times his younger sibling would get bitten by mosquitos, and so he tried to figure out the reason for them. After running some experiments, he noticed the bugs seemed to be strongly attracted to her socks, and then determined that it was the naturally occurring bacteria from the soles of her feet that were drawing them.

Such naturally occurring bacteria doesn’t present a threat to the person’s health, but it does seem to stimulate mosquitos’ desire to feed, Tagami concluded. His sister then wiped her feet from her ankles to her toes with an alcohol wipe and put her shoes back on, and this reduced the number of mosquitos bites she received while in a forested mountain area by about 65 percent. Making sure to wash your feet thoroughly when showering, including scrubbing between the toes, is also recommneded.

With summer mosquito season on the way, Tagami’s method has been getting renewed interest on Japanese Twitter, with some people trying it and then posting photos of their non-bitten feet.

Others have left text-based testimonials, with comments and posts such as:

“Tried wiping my feet with alcohol, and I didn’t get bitten by mosquitos at all!”
“Tried is before I went out to get dinner. There was a mosquito buzzing around inside the restaurant, but I didn’t get bitten.”
“Sprayed alcohol on the bottom of my feet before I went to mow the lawn, and I finished without a single mosquito bite.”

It’s worth noting, however, that theorized reasons why mosquitos choose to bite any individual person are myriad and nebulous, with proposed explanations also including a person’s blood type and what sort of food they’ve recently eaten. Because of that, wiping your feet may not be a foolproof method of driving the bugs off, and a number of Twitter users have also commented that they still got bit even after trying Tagami’s advice. Still, others swear it works for them, and it’s a relatively quick and simple thing to do, so if you’re looking for any and all ways to reduce how often you get bitten, it’s worth a shot. And if it doesn’t work and end up with bites anyway, we’ve got some advice for that too.

Source: NHK, Jin, Twitter
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso
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