7 things that make mosquitoes bite you more
Does it seem like mosquitoes search you out specifically, maniacally biting you just to make you miserable?
Blame your genetics.
And your smelly feet.
Basically, mosquitoes choose their prey (you) based on a whole bunch of factors.
Many myths exist, for example, the idea that eating bananas can repel the bugs doesn't hold up.
But, scientific research has found evidence supporting the following:
- Blood type. People with type O blood attract more mosquitoes than the other types, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.
- Pregnancy. Pregnant women produce more heat, making them more attractive to mosquitoes. In a study in The Lancet, malaria carrying mosquitoes were attracted to pregnant women two times as much as non-pregnant women.
- Alcohol. In a small study in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, researchers found mosquitoes liked people who had drank a beer more than their sober counterparts.
- Smell. Some people's bodies emit attractant compounds, while others emit repellent compounds. It's unclear why or how this works, though several studies have attempted to isolate the chemicals to use them for mosquito traps or natural bug spray.
- Skin microbes. The bacteria living on our skin plays a big role in what we smell like. We don't know what smells specifically these microbes are putting out there to attract the biters. But, people with more different types of bacteria living on their skin were less attractive to mosquitoes, according to a study published in PLOS ONE.
- Carbon dioxide. A review published in the Bulletin of Entomological Research found that mosquitoes like people who emit more carbon dioxide when they breathe, which includes larger people and pregnant women.
- Exercise. When you work out, you produce lactic acid, which has been proven to be an attractant for mosquitoes in a few studies when it's released in your sweat.
These studies were on several different kinds of mosquitoes, so the actual things attracting mosquitoes to you may vary, depending what species are near you.
There are actually over 3,000 species of mosquito, and some of them can transmit deadly diseases like malaria, yellow fever, dengue, Chikungunya, and West Nile, which combined kill more than 700,000 people a year worldwide.
Currently, the West Nile virus kills about a hundred Americans a year, and Chikungunya and dengue were passed from person-to-person in the US (by mosquitoes) for the first time in 2014.
So while it's nice to avoid the bugs because they're extremely annoying, and their bites are itchy and can get infected, avoiding them can also help slow the spread of deadly diseases.
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