The weather is heating up and you’re spending more time outdoors. Summer also means mosquitoes are back on the prowl in full force. It’s that time of year again when we find out who is the most delicious mosquito treat.
There are lots of old wives tales out there to explain why some people get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. By now, however, scientists have taken a close enough look at the issue to render some definitive answers. No, eating bananas will not attract more mosquitoes and vitamin B12 does not repel them.
With the Zika virus raising concerns, avoiding mosquitoes is more important than ever. If you’re one of the unlucky ones you are not alone. An estimated 20 percent are especially endearing to the blood suckers.
There are certain things you can control and others you cannot. Here are eight reasons why mosquitoes prefer some people more than others:
The biggest reason mosquitoes prefer to bite some people more than others has to do with bacteria on the skin, although scientists are not exactly sure which ones. There are more 400 chemical compounds that exist on human skin that could be the culprit, according to a study in PLOS. This bacteria creates a smelly mix that either repel or attract the little buggers. Sadly, there’s not much you can as your skin microbes are largely determined by genetics.
Another factor you cannot control is blood type. It turns out mosquitoes really prefer type O blood, according to a National Institutes of Health Study. In fact, mosquitoes prefered type O blood twice as much as type A blood. Some of us, about 85 percent, even have a chemical that secretes through our skin letting the mosquitoes know what type of blood we have.
How much carbon dioxide you emit also plays a strong role in whether you are one of the unlucky ones. People that have recently exercised, have low metabolsim or are overweight may be at increased risk to mosquito bites because they are giving off more carbon dioxide with through their breath, studies have shown.
Warmth and sweat
In addition to carbon dioxide, mosquitoes are attracted to warm skin and sweat. This comes through the production of lactic acid that exudes through the skin, which would explain why mosquitoes tend to bit people after they exercise or perform strenuous activities.
Another study by the National Institutes of Health found that mosquitoes carrying malaria were especially attracted to Limburger cheese, which has a close resemblance to toe fungus. That would explain why some mosquitoes like to go after those smelly feet.
According to one study, drinking beer makes people more attractive to mosquitoes, but we doubt that will do anything to stop you from enjoying a brewski on the porch. Based on the NIH study, drinking just one beer significantly increased the chances of getting bitten.
Another factor in determining how attractive you might to mosquitoes is whether you are pregnant. In a study in Science Direct, researchers found pregnant women are twice as likely to get bitten than women who were not pregnant.
The first indicator that mosquitoes use to narrow in on a target is color. If you wear darker colors like black, blue and red, you will likely have a greater chance of getting bitten. But this factor is lower on the list of attractants that have the most determination.
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