Why is that some people can spend an entire day outside by the barbecue without any issues, while others can't seem to step outside without attracting their own personal mosquito swarm? The simple answer is that, like any other animal, mosquitoes are more attracted to certain food sources than others.
So what attracts mosquitoes to bite people, and why are certain people more popular than others? Read on to find out.
Hunting By Smell
The main way mosquitoes find human is through smell, using their antennae. When they pick up on a promising odor, the human or animal in question lights up like a beacon so that mosquitoes can make a bee-line to them like ships coming into port looking for a lighthouse.
Some scents mosquitoes love include:
Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide you exhale every time you breathe. The more gas you exhale, the bigger a target you become; this is why adults are more likely to get bitten by mosquitoes than children.
Unfortunately, because pregnant women exhale about 21% more CO2 than they do normally, they are also at particular risk - a contributing factor to the spread of the Zika virus.
Beyond your breath, mosquitoes are also attracted to the odors given off naturally by your body through your sweat and secretions. This is why sweaty people that have just completed strenuous outdoor activity can be putting themselves at great risk of mosquito bites if they aren't protecting themselves adequately.
More specifically, they are attracted to the composition of skin bacteria and the levels of lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia, and certain other substances that your body secretes naturally. Unfortunately, while about 80% of people are "secretors," our skin's chemical makeup is determined by genetics and secretors have no way of turning themselves into non-secretors.
As with the chemical and bacterial makeup of your skin, mosquitos also have preferences when it comes to blood type. Specifically, mosquitoes have been proven to prefer type O blood over types A, B, and AB, making O-type people into much bigger targets for mosquito bites.
Of course, because blood type is also determined by biological makeup, it means that if you are blood type O you'll need to take extra precautions if you don't want to get bitten.
While experts are not sure how it works, scientific studies have proven that mosquitoes are more attracted to people that have recently consumed alcohol. If you're planning an outdoor party or barbecue, you may want to take extra protective measures to ensure mosquitoes don't spoil the fun.
However, while smell is their primary method of hunting, other factors can also attract mosquitoes, such as:
Mosquitoes have sophisticated heat sensors that allow them to pick up traces of body heat and follow it back to the source. The more body heat you produce, the higher your vulnerability, putting larger adults at great risk of getting bitten.
Mosquitoes prefer dark colors and shadows, especially dark blue, likely because of the association to water. Don't put yourself at risk in mosquito season by dressing in all-dark colors; wear whites, flannels, and pastels to avoid looking like a feast for mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes have been shown to see their prey from distances up to 30 feet away by detecting fluctuations in light waves. While obviously some movement is necessary regardless of the situation, by limiting unnecessary movement during mosquito-heavy times you can make yourself less noticeable.
How to Protect Yourself
Some simple yet effective ways to protect yourself against mosquitoes include:
- Wash regularly to reduce body odor but be careful using perfumes/colognes to mask your scent since the fragrant smell can actually attract more mosquitoes
- Reduce lactic acid on your skin by washing thoroughly with soap after any strenuous physical activity and drying thoroughly with a towel
- Look into some DIY mosquito repellant methods and apply permethrin-based chemicals to your skin and clothing to form a protective shield around yourself
Unfortunately, as much as 85% of your susceptibility to mosquito bites is based solely on your genetics. This means that, while there are measures you can take to keep mosquitoes at bay, until we can change our genetic makeup, some people will always be attractive to mosquitoes.
However, that doesn't mean you don't have a real option to protect yourself: by finding a licensed and qualified exterminator, you can protect your home from mosquitoes in the long-term, and eliminate the problem for good. For tips on how to find a qualified mosquito exterminator for your home, check out our relevant blog.
And if you're interested in learning more about mosquitoes and the threat they pose to your home and family, download our free informative ebook, How to Keep Mosquitoes Out of Your Yard This Summer, and take back your home today.