It’s one of life’s most intolerable injustices. If mosquitoes were equally vexing to all of us, then at least we could all suffer together. But alas, there’s no fairness in this world, and some people attract the bloodsucking pests more than others.
Odds are, you’re one of us. But why? For what crime are you being punished with such a cruel and unusual fate? Is there anything you can do about it? Here are the main factors that determine whether or not someone’s a mosquito magnet.
Every time we exhale, we’re expelling carbon dioxide. Mosquitoes use carbon dioxide to sense prey. They can detect carbon dioxide from up to 160 feet away. The more carbon dioxide you produce, the more mosquitoes will smell what you’re producing and come flying for a meal.
A lot of things affect how much carbon dioxide you give off, like how heavily or quickly you breathe. Heavier people tend to naturally exhale more carbon dioxide, which is why mosquitoes bite adults more often than kids. Pregnant women give off more carbon dioxide, too. Finally, the carbon dioxide we give off is laced with unique combinations of other chemicals and gases. No two people give off the exact same combination of gases. Mosquitoes are more attracted to some combos than others, so if you’re mosquito bite-prone, it could be that mosquitoes just like what you’ve got goin’ on. Lucky you.
Mosquitoes use their ability to smell carbon dioxide to home in on prey from far away, but once they get up close they’re smelling for lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia, and other chemicals in sweat. Physical exertion increases the amount of lactic acid in your body, which can make you a beacon for any bloodsuckers in the area.
If you’re a person who sweats easily or often, chances are you give off more lactic acid than the average person. Mosquitoes around you will smell that lactic acid and prioritize you as a food source, often even if there are other people in your vicinity. Even if you don’t sweat more than average, some people naturally give off more lactic and uric acid than others, based on genetics. Thanks a lot, mom and dad.
Mosquitoes are always on the lookout for warm places–even when they’re on the hunt. Your body temperature might attract mosquitoes, particularly if you’re also sweaty or panting. Though natural body temperature doesn’t attract mosquitoes as much as sweat or carbon dioxide, it can make you a more attractive place to hang out.
We wish we had better news, but this is another one that’s partially out of your hands. Some people run hotter than others. It has to do with weight, height, body-mass index, diet, and a whole host of other things. Try to stay cool when spending time outside during the mosquito season, especially if you’re a naturally hot person–and we think you are! 😉
For whatever reason, mosquitoes are more attracted to some blood types than others. One study found that mosquitoes land on people with type-O blood twice as often as people with type A blood. Maybe it’s just their favorite flavor? People with type B blood were bitten more often than type As and less than type Os. That annoying friend who doesn’t seem at all bothered by mosquitoes is probably a type A. Typical.
So how can mosquitoes even tell what kind of blood you have? They’ve never seen your organ donor card! Well, it has to do with your genes again. 85% of people secrete chemical signals through their skin that indicate what their blood type is. Mosquitoes can sense these chemical signals to learn what flavor you are and whether they want a taste. Secretors also tend to give off other chemicals, so they’re generally more at-risk than non-secretors.
Yes, the prognosis doesn’t look good. There are a lot of reasons mosquitoes may be attracted to you that you can do nothing about. But don’t despair! There are some good habits you can follow to minimize your attractiveness and save yourself from itch attacks. Wear bright clothing outdoors in the summertime, cover as much skin as you’re comfortable with, and always apply bug spray. You could also avoid drinking, since mosquitoes are attracted to blood with alcohol in it, but honestly, you seem like you could use the drink.
If you’re really struggling with a mosquito problem this summer, and you want to do something about it, give Plunkett’s a call. We can’t take care of every mosquito on Earth (unfortunately), but we can provide a great amount of relief from mosquito activity. Get in touch, and we’ll make sure those mosquitoes leave hungry.BACK TO BLOG