Are you a Mosquito Magnet?

by Nicole Belanger

For most people, warmer weather means more time spent outdoors throughout the day. For a select few who possess the unfortunate quality of being a mosquito magnet, warmer weather means more time spent slapping skin, and uncontrollable itching. Funny thing is, like humans, mosquitoes are known to connect with certain people more than others. So, if you find yourself thinking that mosquitoes are the only things on earth that make you their top priority, you might be right.

Over the years, research has shown that an estimated 20% of people are highly attractive to mosquitoes  Everything from the warmth of your face down to the smell of your feet can affect your attractiveness to mosquitoes. Although there is no known way to avoid the itchy bites completely, there are some precautions that you can take to reduce the amount of bites on your body. Smithsonian reported that there are a few factors that you should be aware of if you plan on spending your summer days outside.

  1. We all know that mosquitoes are mini vampires that suck the blood out of us. What people aren’t aware of is that the females need human blood to help develop their eggs. It’s almost as if you’re involuntarily competing in the mosquito’s own bachelorette competition. One experiment found that mosquitoes are significantly more attracted to people with type O blood than type A blood. Those with type B blood were left somewhere in the middle, lucky enough to not be the chosen one but unlucky enough to still be appetizing.
  2. One major attractor for the mosquito is the amount of carbon dioxide your body releases. Those with faster metabolisms as well as larger people and pregnant women are known to emit more carbon dioxide than others. Mosquitoes can detect carbon dioxide from over 100 feet away which helps them target certain people.
  3. Movement such as exercise instantly transforms you into a human bullseye for this seasonal enemy. Lactic acid and acetone are among two chemicals released from your body through breath and sweat which lures in mosquitoes. High body temperature is another factor in attracting  the insects. When possible, try to avoid excess movement outside if you’re someone that bugs tend to love. Likewise, any beverages such as beer and other alcohols that are known to increase body temperature and release chemicals through sweat should be avoided in outdoor environments if mosquito bites are a problem for you.  So if you need an excuse to go out to the bar and avoid all of your obligations, here it is.
  4. Skin bacteria also plays a role in who gets chosen. Research shows that skin with large amounts of a limited variety of  bacteria species is more attractive than those who have large amounts of many species of bacteria present. Perhaps that’s why mosquitoes heavily attack areas such as legs and feet that are covered in natural bacteria.

Aside from the impossible task of changing your genetics, you can change your clothing color to avoid mosquitoes. Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida in Vero Beach told NBC news that the insects rely heavily on visuals, so try to steer clear of dark colors as they are easier for mosquitoes to spot.

And if you’re not opposed to bathing in bug repellants before going outside, Consumer Reports did your homework for you and compiled some of the best bug repellants for you to use this summer.


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1 comment

Barbara June 9, 2015 - 9:33 am

Great article. Very well written and full of interesting facts for people to consider if they are typically bothered by mosquitoes.

I was surprised to learn that only 20% of people are highly attractive to mosquitoes. I didn’t realize that but it has been my experience while outside with other people that some are getting bitten and others are not. The article has good explanations for why that occurs.


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