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Picture this: It’s mid-June. You just enjoyed a nice cookout. The sun is setting and now you’re relaxing in your backyard with your friends—playing cornhole, talking, laughing, roasting marshmallows by the fire. Everyone is enjoying themselves, particularly that one darn mosquito that just won’t seem to leave you alone. You and only you. You swat left and right only to realize it has already bitten you twice and keeps coming back for more. You then realize that this little gal isn’t bothering anyone but you! What?!
Unfortunately for you, mosquitoes actually do favor certain people over others. But why is that? Below we take a look at some of the things that make certain people more attractive to mosquitoes and susceptible to mosquito bites than others.
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Is it the color you are wearing? Are you sweating? Did you just drink a beer? Are you moving too much? What’s your blood type? Are you pregnant? Surprisingly, these are all factors that could make you more attractive to mosquitoes. Let’s take a look at them.
The color you are wearing can either reduce or increase your attractiveness to a mosquito, and research has shown that mosquitoes are more attracted to darker colors. For mosquitoes, darker colors stand out and lighter colors blend in with the horizon. This contrast in colors is a way for mosquitoes to identify a host in front of them blocking the mosquito’s view of the horizon.
Also, darker colors absorb more heat, so you are more likely to sweat when wearing dark clothing, therefore increasing your body temperature. Mosquitoes have highly sensitive heat sensors, so they will typically fly toward the warmer person wearing a darker outfit as opposed to a cool, calm, and relaxed person wearing lighter colors.
As stated in the section above, mosquitoes are attracted to heat, and when your body gets hot, you sweat. Mosquitoes can actually smell the lactic acid found in your sweat from a distance. They get their intense sense of smell from their chemical neuroreceptors. Lactic acid, ammonia, uric acid and other compounds found in human perspiration are all picked up by those receptors. Therefore, the more you sweat, the more you smell, and the more bites you’ll get.
So what on earth does alcohol have to do with mosquitoes biting you? Well, studies have shown that mosquitoes are more attracted to those who drink beer. Drinking beer increases the ethanol content in your sweat which attracts mosquitoes. Also, your body temperature increases when you drink alcohol and, as we learned earlier, mosquitoes find their host through their heat sensors. So, the higher your body temperature is, the more likely a mosquito will find you.
A study in 2019 looked at mosquito preferences in regards to blood type and found that mosquitoes are most attracted to people with Type O blood. Actually, people with Type O blood are two times more likely to attract mosquitoes and mosquito bites than those with Type A blood. Those with Type B blood end up somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Unfortunately though, 85% of humans give off a chemical signal that tells mosquitoes what blood type they have, so there’s really no way to avoid this factor.
Pregnant women are found to be attractive to mosquitoes as they tend to have higher metabolic rates on average than nonpregnant women, therefore they release more carbon dioxide. Also, a pregnant woman’s body temperature is typically higher than normal, which is another factor that attracts mosquitoes.
Finally, the biggest factor when it comes to attracting mosquitoes is carbon dioxide. We all emit carbon dioxide when we breathe, and an increase in carbon dioxide can alert a mosquito that a potential host is nearby. Also, more carbon dioxide is released when you exercise. So, if you are outside during evening hours, drinking a beer and sweating while playing cornhole, you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up with some mosquito bites.
Now that we know what can attract mosquitoes, let’s talk through some tips for protection against them.
Western also provides mosquito control services that can help prevent mosquitoes in your yard. Your Pest Specialist will do a preliminary property inspection to determine the type of mosquito control service you need. You can also help to prevent mosquitoes in your yard by eliminating standing water, keeping your vegetation trimmed, and keeping your patio furniture away from dense foliage areas.