Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Some People More Than Others?Aug 6, 2019
Every summer, the first thing my wife does before drinking a cup of coffee is count the new mosquito bites on her body. “I got one here,” she says while twisting her hips to show me one on her lower back. “And here,” she says pointing to her shin.
Then she gets mad at me because, once again, I don’t have a single red mark on my entire body. Clearly, mosquitoes love her more than me. But why? Is it the old wives’ tale that her “blood tastes good” or the fact she sleeps on the south-facing side of the room?
Nope. There’s a combination of reasons why mosquitoes love some people more than others.
Here are five reasons why some people attract more mosquitoes than others:
Type O Blood
A study in the Journal of Etymology found that people with Type O blood have double the chance of getting bit by a mosquito than those with Type A.
If having a few beers on a hot summer night sounds like fun to you, it sounds awesome to the mosquitoes that live in your yard as well. A study published in NCBI found that people who drink alcohol are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes.
“Our study demonstrated that the number of mosquito landing on volunteers significantly increased after beer ingestion compared with before ingestion, showing clearly that drinking alcohol stimulates mosquito attraction.”
Mosquitoes track down their mammalian prey by sensing their C02 output. So people with a higher metabolic rate are more likely to track down mosquitoes. Larger people with greater muscle mass have higher metabolic rates. As do younger people and those who get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.
Mosquitoes are attracted to CO2 and pregnant women exhale 21% greater volume than non-pregnant women. So, they are much more likely to pop up on a mosquito’s radar. Also, pregnant women’s bellies are 0.7°C hotter, which make them more easily detectable as well.
Dr. Jonathan Day, a medical entomologist and mosquito expert at the University of Florida, told Time Magzine that mosquitoes are more attracted to people wearing black. “Mosquitoes have problems flying in even a slight wind, and so they keep close to the ground,” Day explained. “Down there, they spot hosts by comparing your silhouette to the horizon. Dark colors stand out, while light shades blend in,” he says.
One way to protect yourself when you’re out having a beer on a warm summer night is to wear bug repellant. Day says that 15% DEET works the best. “Spray it into your hands and then rub it on your skin to avoid inhaling it,” he told Time. “That’ll protect you for around 90 minutes.”
Here are five more ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites:
Research published in “Cell” found that mosquitos are attracted to something that repels most humans: foot odor. But, if you must wear flip-flops out in the summer heat, be sure to wash your feet before going out to minimize your foot funk.
Grow a garden
Lavender, lemon balm, and mint are all scientifically proven to be natural mosquito repellants. However, basil is the ultimate mosquito-killer because it’s toxic to their larva.
While the sweet smell of sage may attract some hippies to your backyard, it’s proven to ward off mosquitos. Research published in the “Malaria Journal” found that it’s about 40% effective at keeping mosquitos away.
Wear baggy clothes
Mosquitos can bite through skin-tight clothing, so by wearing baggy clothes, it’s harder for them to reach your skin.
Use a fan
As we said earlier, mosquitos fly low and are terrible at navigating in the wind. A fan is a great way to stay cool on a hot night while preventing mosquito bites.
Photo credits: a Skincare.com, RawPixel, CNN.com.