It seems we all know someone who never seems to get bitten by mosquitoes. Or perhaps you are the person that seems to attract mosquitoes from all over the county as soon as you step outside. Believe it or not, science does have some pretty compelling evidence for why mosquitoes prefer certain individuals over others. In fact, studies show that about 20% of people are more likely to attract mosquitoes than the rest of the population. Unfortunately, it’s highly dependent on genetics so there might be little you can do to make yourself less appetizing. Let’s look at what mosquitoes love so much about the people they bite.
What makes a person so darn attractive to mosquitoes? Here are some big factors, according to science:
1. Blood Type – Yes, it’s true. Mosquitoes do have a preferred blood type and it happens to be Type O. In studies, mosquitoes preferred people with Type O blood twice as much as people with Type A. Types B and AB fell about in the middle of the spectrum.
2. Blood Type Chemical Markers – 85% of the population secretes chemical markers that reveal their blood type. This is how mosquitoes can pick the Type O person out of a crowd. However, 15% of the population does not secrete chemical markers that reveal their blood type. When choosing between secreters and non-secreters, mosquitoes will choose the secreters regardless of blood type over the non-secreters. If we’re keeping tabs, these non-secreters are likely the ones who never seem to get bitten.
3. Pregnancy – Mosquitoes love pregnant women. While only female mosquitoes actually bite, is has nothing to do with sisterhood and everything to do with metabolism. Pregnant women have higher metabolic rates than the rest of the population. They have a higher resting body temperature and exhale an average of 21% more carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is one of the things mosquitoes use to search out a good meal.
4. Sweat Byproducts – Mosquitoes sense a number of things to find warm-blooded animals to bite, but they use sweat byproducts to pinpoint humans, in particular. The byproducts of lactic acid, ammonia and uric acid present in human sweat are like a fine perfume to hungry mosquitoes.
5. High CO2 Output – Pregnant women aside, there are individuals in the population with higher metabolic rates who put out more CO2 than the rest of us. CO2 output is also temporarily increased by exercise and drinking alcohol. CO2 output helps mosquitoes distinguish between plants and animals, so the higher the CO2 output, the more attracted mosquitoes will be.
To avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, start by avoiding outdoor activities during their most active hours around dusk and dawn. Bug sprays don’t work on all species of mosquitoes and many ingredients aren’t safe for pregnant women. Mosquitoes do have a hard time flying in any kind of windy conditions, so a fan is a handy way to keep as many mosquitoes away as possible if you do have to be outdoors. And now you know that it is not your imagination that mosquitoes seem much more attracted to you than other people.