What makes mosquitoes attracted to humans?
If you feel like you’re a magnet for mosquitoes, you’re not alone.
There are a lucky few who seem to avoid mosquito bites, but the rest of us somehow manage to come out 20 bites deep after a warm evening spent outside. If this sounds like you, you’ll probably want to know what makes you such a target.
We’re going to go through the many reasons why mosquitoes may hone in on certain people and what you can do to help protect yourself.
Fun fact: Only female mosquitoes bite. Do with that information, what you will.
Why do mosquitoes bite some people more than others?
While it may feel like mosquitoes are unfairly targeting you, that probably isn’t the case. In fact, in most instances, mosquitoes will get blood from whatever is around them at the time (be it people or animals).
Mosquitoes are clever little buggers and will use their senses to detect the closest host. Anything from your body heat, how much carbon dioxide you emit, or your skin odour can contribute to how a mosquito locates you.
If you’re a heavy breather, this one is for you. Mosquitoes can detect changes to carbon dioxide in their environment. So, if there is an increase of carbon dioxide (aka if someone is breathing more or deeply), it can alert mosquitoes that there is something nearby they can feed on.
This is backed by recent studies that showed fluctuations in carbon dioxide concentrations increased the frequency of ‘landing behaviour’ on gauze treated with human DNA.
Yep, you guessed it. Mozzies love it when you sweat. When we sweat, we produce an odour called lactic acid. What makes sweat such an attractive smell, you say? Research from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases identified a unique odour receptor called Ionotropic Receptor 8a (IR8a). The Aedes aegypti mosquito (a type of mosquito that transmits dengue fever and Zika) uses this receptor to detect lactic acid.
When the researchers muted that receptor on the mosquitoes’ antennae, they found the mosquitoes were unable to sense lactic acid and other acidic smells found in human odour.
Are mosquitos attracted to certain blood types?
You’ve probably heard people around you say that mozzies love them because they have a specific blood type. But do mosquitos really have a preference?
A handful of studies over the years have indicated that yes, mosquitoes tend to feed on people with the blood type O. The most recent study, from 2019, involved samples of different blood types in separate feeders. It was observed that mosquitoes preferred to feed on the type O feeder than the other feeders.
While this study shows that people with type O blood are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes, more research is required. Your blood type may play a part in a mosquito’s preferences; however other factors are more statistically significant.
As we’ve just been through, the amount of CO2 you emit and the smell of your skin are more likely to influence whether a mosquito bites you or not. All in all, your blood type may make you tastier prey to mosquitoes, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.
It’s not known why, but studies show mosquitoes are more attracted to dark or black coloured clothing. So, if you’re planning on spending a lot of time outdoors, make sure you opt for lighter colours.
Or just take your trusty Bug-grrr Off insect repellent with you wherever you go.
How you can protect yourself against mosquitoes (even if they love you)
Prevention is the best way to ensure pesky bloodsuckers don’t maul your limbs. Many factors could make you fall prey, so it’s wise not to take chances when you venture outside.
Bug-grrr Off’s natural insect and mosquito repellent is the only sure-fire method to ward off mosquitoes. With over six hours of protection, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re safe from annoying, itchy bites.