Summer means it’s mosquito season in most of the country. Warmer parts of the country see mosquitoes almost year round. No one I know likes mosquitoes. But something that has irritated me about mosquitoes is how much they seem to like me compared to other people around me. I sit there swatting and scratching while others enjoy being outdoors without much trouble.
I find that I’m not alone. About 20 percent of people seem to be favorite food to mosquitoes. As such, they get bit more than other people. So it’s true and not your imagination that you might be pestered by mosquitoes more than the people around you.
What makes you so enticing? Here are a few things that make you so tasty:
Blood Type. This is the most obvious answer, and scientists have found that mosquitoes land on people with Type O blood about twice as often as they land on people with Type A blood. There is also a less known fact that some people secrete a chemical signal through their skin that mosquitoes seem to be attracted to, indicating what type of blood they have. About 85% secrete this chemical and 15% do not.
Breath. More specifically, carbon dioxide. This is how many insects are attracted to mammals is by smelling the CO2 that we exhale with every breath we take. Mosquitoes can sense carbon dioxide from over 150 feet away. Larger people exhale more carbon dioxide and will attract more mosquitoes than smaller people. This might explain why children get bit less often than adults.
Skin. Bacteria that lives naturally on our skin seems to be especially appealing to mosquitoes. Those areas of our skin that are more bacteria rich, like ankles and feet, get bit more often than the rest of our bodies.
Metabolism. Mosquitoes can also smell lactic acid, uric acid, and ammonia that are released through our sweat. The more we sweat, the more we attract the blood suckers. And if you are naturally warmer, the mosquitoes want to cuddle up with you.
Pregnancy. Just being pregnant makes you a target. Pregnant women exhale over 20% more carbon dioxide than the average person and they tend to run about one degree warmer than normal while they are pregnant.
Alcohol. Beer, just one bottle of beer, makes you more attractive. It could either be the alcohol in your sweat or because drinking increases body temperature.
Clothing. Mosquitoes use vision as well as scent to locate sources of blood. Wearing black, navy, or red seem to make you easier to find.
Scientists are using all this information to try to determine a more natural mosquito repellent. Until then, be aware of how appealing you seem to be to mosquitoes, and offer the big guy next to you another beer after you dance.