When it comes to mosquito bites, there is always one friend, family member, or co-worker that constantly complains about being bitten. If you are the type of person who always comes away with red, swollen and itchy welts after a night sitting by the campfire or a day hiking in the wood, you are not alone. Turns out, mosquitoes do have different preferences towards what and who they bite, and according to scientists it primarily comes down to your genetics . Beyond your genetics though, there are certain attractants we as humans have which can cause you to become susceptible to getting bitten more than your peers. Here are some factors that play a role in whether you are a mosquito magnet or not.
The reason why female mosquitoes bite is to harvest the proteins from your blood for their eggs. One study done back in 2004, showcased that mosquitoes do have a landing preference based on blood type, with Type O landed on twice as often as those with blood type A . Those with blood type B fell in-between Type A and Type O for landing preference.
Mosquitoes use carbon dioxide as a targeting system, finding you with their maxillary palp organ. This organ helps mosquitoes hone in on their target by allowing them to detect carbon dioxide from as far as 164 feet away. Generally, this means that if you exhale more carbon dioxide than others (larger individuals included), you will attract more mosquitoes.
If you choose to exercise a lot, you will not only exhale more carbon dioxide but also build up more substances like ammonia, lactic acid, and uric acid which get expelled through your sweat. Plus, strenuous activity causes your body temperature to rise which is a known factor in mosquito biting preferences.
Certain volumes of bacteria on the skin will affect how attractive we are to mosquitoes. In a study done in 2011, scientists actually found a correlation between large amounts of specific bacteria types and an increase in bites . If you have a large amount of bacteria on your skin but it is spread out across numerous species types, you are less likely to attract mosquito bites, whereas, concentrated high volumes of specific bacteria species cause an increase in bites.
If you choose to drink a bottle of beer while outside near mosquitoes, you increase your chances of becoming a target. This is because drinking beer increases the amount of ethanol that gets excreted in your sweat. When you combine this with the fact that drinking beer can elevate your body temperature, you have two factors that mosquitoes love.
Women who are pregnant attract roughly twice as many mosquito bites than anyone else. Why? Pregnant women exhale more carbon dioxide and tend to have a warmer or higher body temperature due to the baby.
Mosquitoes use vision and scent to locate who they are going to bite, and their vision allows them to see dark objects more easily than light ones. When you choose to wear clothing that stands out to them like dark blue, red, and black, it makes you an easier target because the mosquito can see you easier. When you are out and about during later afternoon hours, refrain from moving around too much and wearing darker-coloured clothing.
According to WebMD, your genetics actually account for up to 85% of the reason or variability as to why you attract mosquito bites. This can be expressed through your blood type, through your metabolism, or because you have higher concentrations of cholesterol on your skin’s surface. This occurs when your body is efficient at processing cholesterol and the by-product of the process is left on the surface of the skin. Beyond this, mosquitoes are attracted to those who secrete the specific chemical that gives away your blood type. Whether or not you secrete this chemical signal is dependent on your genes.
When it comes to avoiding the pesky mosquito bite, make sure that you shower after exercising, avoid exercising outdoors where you will attract mosquitoes to you, and always wear light-coloured clothing during the morning and dusk hours. Other than this, if you know you will be in a particular area for the evening, remove any standing sources of water, as mosquitoes like to breed in environments where there is a lot of standing water. Unfortunately, one of the main ways to avoid getting bitten is to just have others around you who have stronger mosquito-attracting attributes.