Ever noticed how mosquitoes seem to desperately feed on some people while ignoring others?
Well, it’s not in your illusion. Mosquitoes really do prefer some people over others, says Dr. Jonathan Day, a medical entomologist and mosquito expert at the University of Florida. And the time when your grandmother used to tell you that your skin is just sweeter? There’s some truth to that, Dr. Day says. “Some people produce more of certain chemicals in their skin,” he explains. “And a few of those chemicals, like lactic acid, attract mosquitoes.” There’s also evidence that one blood type (i.e. O) attracts more mosquitoes than others (A or B).
About 20 percent of the population experiences an above-average incidence of mosquito bites. In fact, researchers say about 85 percent of why mosquitoes bite you comes down to your genetics.
To your most surprise, only female mosquitoes bite, and they seek out host for a bite to obtain nutrients in order to properly develop eggs. These insects aren’t the best flyers and don’t have the best vision. Mosquitoes are drawn to food targets by identifying the presence of lactic acid, CO2 — the gas we exhale — and other attractants. They will also be seen humming over dark-colored fabrics as well as moving objects since these are usually the most promising targets.
WHY MOSQUITOES BITE SOME AND NOT OTHERS
According to research, you are more at risk for mosquito bites if you:
- Are pregnant (due to having higher resting metabolic rates)
- Are obese or overweight (because you might exhale more CO2)
- Having Blood type ‘O’ (you attract more mosquitoes than other Blood Group types)
- Had alcohol (this increases your metabolic rate and the amount of CO2 you exhale)
- Have a high temperature of your body
- Have sweat on your body
- Produce more lactic acid, uric acid, and Octenol through your skin pores (these are the most attractants for mosquitoes)
- Have recently exercised (your raised metabolic rate increases your CO2 emission)
- Are wearing dark fabric (dark colors seems more prominent to mosquitoes)
- Haven’t showered in a day or more (old sweat stands out more to mosquitoes, especially to the species carrying malaria)
Additionally, researchers have found that people who seem to repel mosquitoes might be discharging a chemical that acts as a natural repellent. Unfortunately, reproducing this chemical in the lab had been unsuccessful so far.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE A MOSQUITO MAGNET
According to the World Health Organisation, more than a million people are killed by mosquitoes bite annually. If you’re one of the unfortunates who seem to get more mosquito bites, experts say there are a few things you can do to lower your chances:
- Take shower after doing exercise to cut down the presence of sweat and CO2
- Dodge outdoor exercise, where you’ll exhale a big cloud of CO2 that will attract more mosquitoes
- Wear light-colored clothes and long-sleeved shirts are the best options
- Avoid going outdoors in the morning and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active
- Stay away from puddles and other sources of still water near your home where mosquitoes can breed
If you’d like to lower your chances of getting bitten by mosquitoes then don’t try to change your genetics. Instead, control the mosquito population around you with a Mosquito traps or repellents.