Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Me So Much?
Have you noticed that some people seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others? If you’re one of these unlucky people, you’re probably wondering, “Why do mosquitoes bite me so much?”
It’s not just your imagination. According to research, and for a variety of reasons, mosquitoes do bite certain people more than others. According to lab research, about 20 percent of the population gets bitten more than others.
But before we dive into why mosquitoes bite some people so much, let’s get a few mosquito facts straight:
- Only female mosquitoes bite because they need human blood to develop fertile eggs.
- Scientists have also discovered proteins in female mosquitoes’ antennae and heads that latch onto certain human chemical markers.
- Our bodies produce these markers naturally, and mosquitoes can detect them up to 115 feet away
Here are some of the factors that appear to cause mosquitoes to bite some people more than others.
According to a Journal of Medical Entomology study, mosquitoes land on people that have Type O blood nearly twice as much as they land on people with Type A blood. Individuals with Type B blood fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Also, about 85 percent of people secrete a chemical signal indicating their blood type.
Using an organ known as the maxillary palp, female mosquitoes can smell carbon dioxide emitted in human breath up to 115 feet away (as mentioned above). Those who exhale more of this gas (often larger people) seem to attract mosquitoes more than others.
Heat and Sweat
Besides carbon dioxide, mosquitoes seem to have a nose for other scents, such as lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia and other compounds emitted in sweat. They also prefer warm bodies. Exercise increases the buildup of lactic acid and heat, making a warm, sweaty body almost irresistible to mosquitoes. Movement increases mosquito bites up to 50%.
Research suggests that certain types and quantities of bacteria on human skin can attract mosquitoes. A recent study found that large amounts of certain types of bacteria make skin more appealing. This may explain why mosquitoes are drawn to our ankles and feet, which are areas that often harbor highly active bacteria colonies, and can be smelly.
Mosquitoes are highly visual creatures, using their eyes and scent organs to locate food sources, especially in the late afternoon. Wearing certain colors including navy, black and red, can make you easier to spot. And according to studies, dark colors have been shown to attract more mosquitoes than lighter colors.
According to research, women in the late stages of pregnancy (28-plus weeks) are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than non-pregnant women. One possible explanation is that pregnant women exhale about 21 percent more carbon dioxide.
Research suggests that an underlying genetic mechanism may affect whether you get bitten by mosquitoes or not. Scientists at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that some lucky people produce a natural mosquito repellent that appears to be genetic.
Why Do Mosquitoes Feed on Your Blood?
How to Help Prevent Mosquito Bites
Mosquitoes not only leave itchy bites on some people, but they can carry pathogens that may cause disease.
Wearing long sleeves and pants is the most obvious way to help prevent mosquito bites, though not the most comfortable one in the summer. For added protection, use a repellent containing DEET or another active ingredient approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
You can also help prevent mosquito bites in and around your home by having a pest control professional evaluate your situation and develop a control plan.
Learn more on how you can prepare for mosquito season.