[Feb 18, 2022: Melissa Breyer]
Your blood type can play a part, as can a variety of other factors such as your clothes, your breathing, and even the bacteria living on your skin. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)
If it seems like mosquitoes love you more than other people, they very well might. Studies show that around 20% of people are particularly irresistible to these insects.
Some may say that it’s because you have “sweet blood,” which isn’t true. However, your blood type can play a part, as can a variety of other factors such as your clothes, your breathing, and even the bacteria living on your skin.
If you are a magnet for mosquitoes, read on to learn more about what may be luring the insects to you. Aside from satisfying your curiosity, understanding these factors can help you identify ways you can try to avoid their irritating bites and lower your risk of the illnesses they can cause.
Mosquitoes use their eyes to target victims. Research shows wearing dark colors (green, black, and red) makes you easier to spot.
Opt for softer colors like pastels, beige, or even white instead.
Adult mosquitoes survive on nectar for nourishment, but females rely on the protein in human blood for egg production.
Interestingly, mosquitos find some blood types more desirable than others.
Research has found that different species have preferences for different blood types. For instance, the Aedes albopictus mosquito favors type O blood, while the Anopheles gambiae favors type AB.
In addition, around 80% of people produce a secretion that signals what blood type they are. Mosquitoes are drawn to these people more than others, regardless of blood type.
Mosquitoes can sense carbon dioxide from a significant distance. In addition, they can see humans from a distance of 5 to 15 meters (about 16 to 49 feet). These two cues help them track you down.
Also, the more you exhale, the more attractive you become. Larger people exhale more, so they’re more likely to attract mosquitoes.
Since you exhale carbon dioxide through your nose and mouth, mosquitoes are especially attracted to your head.
Heat and Sweat
Mosquitoes have a nose for other scents as well. For example, they can sniff out lactic acid, ammonia, and other compounds emitted in sweat.
Strenuous exercise increases the buildup of lactic acid and heat in your body. In addition, genetic factors affect your “odor profile,” which can affect how attractive you are to mosquitoes.
These things make it easier for mosquitoes to find some people than others.
Your skin is naturally teeming with microscopic life. These bacteria mixed with sweat create a distinct fragrance.
Some research has shown that the types and amount of bacteria on a person’s skin can play a role in attracting mosquitoes.
In one study, researchers divided participants into those who were highly attractive to mosquitoes and those who were not. The first group had a larger community of microbes, but it was less diverse than those who were not as attractive to mosquitoes.
The bacteria factor could also explain why some mosquitoes are drawn to ankles and feet, an especially ripe spot for bacteria.
It turns out that pregnancy attracts some mosquito species. There hasn’t been a lot of research on this, but a study in Africa in 2000 found that twice as many mosquitoes gravitated towards pregnant people compared to non-pregnant people.
Researchers believe this may happen for a couple of reasons, including:
Carbon dioxide: People in late pregnancy exhaled a 21% greater volume of breath than non-pregnant people.
Heat: The abdomens of pregnant people were about one degree warmer.
Who knew mosquitoes had a taste for beer? In one study, researchers found that significantly more mosquitoes flew toward study participants who had drunk one liter of beer than participants who had drunk a liter of water.
However, the reason for this increase remains unclear. Neither carbon dioxide exhalation nor skin temperature showed any correlation between alcohol consumption and mosquito landings.
Even so, the findings suggest that you should take precautions against mosquitoes when drinking alcohol.
While it may seem a mystery why mosquitoes prefer some people over others, it turns out science can offer some clues.
Dark clothing, blood type, sweat, carbon dioxide, pregnancy, skin bacteria, and beer consumption are some things researchers have found tend to attract mosquitoes.
For more science news stories check out our New Discoveries section at The Brighter Side of News.
Note: Materials provided above by Melissa Breyer. Content may be edited for style and length.
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