Why Are You a Mosquito Magnet?
You’re trying your best to enjoy an evening barbeque, but a constant swarm of mosquitoes follows you from grill to poolside. As you swat madly at the pests, you notice that others seem completely unfazed. Could it be that mosquitoes prefer to bite some people over others?
Some People Are More Prone To Mosquito Bites Studies suggest that about 20 percent of people are “high attractor types” who are especially appealing to the female
mosquitoes seeking out blood. Here are some of the reasons why you may be on the mosquito radar.
They’re more likely to spot you as a target if you stand out from your environment. Dark colours, especially, will attract more of the insect. Mosquitoes use vision (along with scent) to locate humans, so wearing colors that stand out (black, dark blue or red) may make you easier to find.
Similarly, the more you move, the easier you are to identify as a living, breathing vessel. Avoid swatting (that’s hard!); they are attracted to movement and it encourages them.
Visual clues allow the mosquito to locate you, but as she approaches, it’s your body heat that draws her in. This puts pregnant women, who average about 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than others, at a particular risk.
Mosquitoes can detect carbon dioxide from up to 50 yards away. Since everyone emits CO2 simply by exhaling, it comes down to relative amounts. Unfortunately for mothers-to-be, pregnancy causes women to emit 21 percent more CO2. This is also why kids are often safer from bites if more CO2 emitting adults are around.
Drinking just 12 ounces of beer will increase the attention you receive from the pests. Researchers suspected this was because drinking increases the amount of ethanol excreted in sweat, or because it increases body temperature.
The Properties of Your Skin and Sweat
The composition of your skin bacteria can be an attractor as can the levels of lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia, and other substances present in your sweat. Mosquitoes find victims by smelling substances and are also attracted to people with higher body temperatures. This also might be why mosquitoes are especially prone to biting our ankles and feet as they naturally have more robust bacteria colonies.
Research shows that certain blood types are more appetising than others. One study found that mosquitoes landed on people with Type O blood nearly twice as often as those with Type A. People with Type B blood fell somewhere in the middle of this itchy spectrum. Additionally, about 85 percent of people secrete a chemical signal through their skin that indicates which blood type they
have. Mosquitoes are also more attracted to secretors than nonsecretors regardless of which type they are
For the Mosquito Magnets
The bad news is that if you are amongst the “high attractor type” there’s not a lot you can do to avoid being a target apart from applying repellents. Up to 85 percent of your susceptibility is purely genetic. There’s a commonly expressed view in Thailand that foreigners are more attractive to mosquitoes than Thai people. There’s no scientific backing but if it’s true then genetic factors may provide an explanation. Another unsubstantiated notion is that eating real Thai food provides some protection. If you are a mosquito magnet, why not try eating more of the local cuisine. Even if it makes no difference, the sensational flavours will mean you’ll be thinking less about those pesky mozzies!