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Are Mosquitoes Attracted to Sugar?

Last Updated: 14.07.24


In case you were wondering if mosquitoes are attracted to sugar, you should know that recent research revealed that people with higher blood sugar levels or those suffering from diabetes can attract these insects more than other people. If you read mosquito repellent reviews, you can find out which methods and products work best to keep these pests away from you.


What Attracts Mosquitoes?

As we all know, warm-blooded beings, including us, are mosquitoes’ favorite meal. But did you know that there are other ways to attract mosquitoes, usually without even realizing it? These blood-sucking insects are stimulated by numerous factors when seeking their blood meal. 

The first thing is the carbon dioxide we exhale. Body heat is another agent that attracts these biters. You should know that once a mosquito approaches a potential target, she will react to the smell of the skin. 

There have been many studies conducted regarding the way mosquitoes choose their targets and it has been suggested that blood type, pregnancy, as well as beer drinking are all very attractive to these insects. Of course, there are multiple species of mosquitoes, and each acts differently. 

There are about 400 chemical compounds on human skin that can inadvertently attract or repel mosquitoes. The smelly mix combined with bacteria living on the skin which is exuded in sweat varies from one person to another. 

This is a good explanation as to why some people attract these biters more than others. Genetics has its role in this as well, but our diet and physiology are also important factors. Lactic acid is one of the best-studied substances contained in sweat. Studies show that this is a key-attractant for mosquitoes.  

In other words, a hot and sweaty body is a hungry mosquito’s favorite pick for a meal. Another study shows that Anopheles gambiae, the species that spreads malaria, are attracted to Limburger cheese. 

The bacterium that provides this type of cheese its unique aroma is very closely related to the germs living between our toes. That’s another explanation of why these insects are also attracted to smelly feet. 

The same study was performed on another species, Aedes aegypti, and the members of this species did not react to the same cheese. That is why there are big differences between mosquito species and studying their biting behavior is very hard.



Does Sugar Attract Mosquitoes?

While the notion that the sweetness of our blood attracts mosquitoes may even sound romantic, it is actually the cocktail of smelly microbes and the factors we mentioned earlier that really makes us appealing to them. We do not know exactly how this myth started. 

It is perhaps because many insects are pollinators, so they are attracted to nectar and other juices from plants. Also, it is true that mosquitoes feed on plant sugars, males to be more exact, as well as females when they’re not laying eggs. It is only the female mosquito that bites in order to get the necessary amount of protein for egg development.

Another thing to consider is that all mosquitoes require sugar to survive. Even though it is only the female that feeds on blood, both males and females need sugar. Mosquitoes can get their sugar fix from flowers and other plants, but also from blood, which also contains sugar. Of course, the sugar levels differ from one person to another.


How to Use Sugar to Avoid Mosquito Bites?

Many studies have been conducted on mosquitoes’ biting behavior but, as mentioned earlier, the results vary a lot from one species to another. Many specialists agree that these insects are attracted to sugar. For example, some say that people with high sugar levels in their blood or people with diabetes attract mosquitoes more than other people. 

Based on more recent research, it seems that you can actually feed these pests sugar, and reduce the bitings. It appears that feeding them sugar affects their protein enough for them to temporarily refrain from biting humans. This is based on a study on the behavior of the Asian tiger mosquito. 

This species originates in Southeast Asia but has spread as an invasive species to numerous other tropical countries around the globe. This type is especially attracted to humans and often live in urban areas. The really bad thing is that they can transmit a few nasty diseases such as dengue and yellow fever, and possibly even the Zika virus. 

While females need to suck blood in order to be able to get the necessary nutrients to develop their eggs, they feed on sugar from plant nectar and sap as well. Researchers wanted to test and see whether a bellyful of sugar could reduce these vampiric urges. Therefore, they fed a solution of sugar to females. 

Afterward, they placed ten to twelve of these insects in clear plastic cups and put their hands on the open sides of these cups. They wanted to see how interested the mosquitos would be in taking the bait. They were able to see how many of them tried to bite through a special screen that protected them from actually getting bitten. 

What they found is very interesting. The young females were not interested in human blood after being fed with the sugary solution. Moreover, this effect lasted up to five and even six days. So, how is this explained? What happens in the mosquito’s organism that makes it less interested in blood after feeding on sugar? 

We are not going to go into a complicated scientific explanation. It appears that after eating sugar, these insects express more of a specific protein which can curb their attraction to humans and their blood, of course. 

Unfortunately, researches are still thinking about ways to be able to deliver these solutions to mosquitoes outside their laboratories. They believe that such a method would reduce the overall worldwide bites, and, as a direct consequence, the overall number of deaths produced by these insects.


How to Stop Attracting Mosquitoes?

As we mentioned previously, there are multiple factors that attract these insects. We cannot stop eliminating carbon dioxide, for example, nor can we reduce our body heat. However, there are ways to mask these attractive agents and reduce the bites. 

If we find good methods, we can even keep these pests away from us. If you are a fan of eco-friendly solutions, you should know that there are many natural repellents you can use against these biters. Mosquitoes have a very keen sense of smell. 

Therefore, there are certain very pungent scents you can use against them such as peppermint, eucalyptus, basil, rosemary, catnip, marigold, lavender, lemon balm, or garlic. Any of these ingredients is a major no-no for mosquitoes. 



Luckily for you, there are multiple ways through which you can use them. You can crush leaves in your hands and rub them against your skin for example. Another method is to use essential oils. You can apply one or combine more of them and create your own homemade mosquito repellents. 

If you want to create more effective solutions, you can find many recipes online. Since we also mentioned garlic, we need to say that this works very well if you eat it, as well. Your scent will be effectively masked against mosquitoes. 

If you want to use artificial repellents, you can do that as well. The market has a lot to offer in this sense. We suggest that you get a product with a 30 to 40% DEET concentration which seems to be most effective. 



As a conclusion, based on our research on the matter we have to say that mosquitoes are attracted to sugar. However, do not imagine that you can put a bowl of sugar on the table and all the insects will be drawn to it. 

You are not cleared, and you are still going to get bitten. Apparently, people with high contents of sugar in their blood are more attractive to these insects. Sweet fragrances from perfumes can also be a factor so watch out for this too.




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