If mosquitoes are driving you so crazy that you are up all night looking up mosquito coil reviews it’s understandable why you would want to know what exactly drives them to relentlessly hunt you. While they do prefer certain blood types if they have a choice, their hunting process is really a lot more complex than that.
What Is A Mosquito?
Since it pays off to know as much as possible about your enemy, let’s start by defining it: What exactly is a mosquito apart from a small, persistent, and bothersome insect?
From a biological standpoint, a mosquito is a two-winged fly which comprises more than 3,500 known species worldwide. They are really adaptable creatures, able to live in pretty much any environment except for the cold north.
Not that they couldn’t adapt there as well, but the whole freezing and heating up process is really threatening to the way mosquitoes choose to reproduce, so they’ve simply learned not to live there anymore.
Another thing you should know is that contrary to popular belief, mosquitoes do not feed on blood like everybody seems to think. Instead, both the male and the female feed on nectar but the females need the protein from the human blood in order to develop and lay their eggs.
They typically feed at dawn, dusk, and during the night while laying around 300 eggs in one session so if you were looking for an explanation for the large insect infestation in your backyard, here you go.
Why Are Some People Bitten More Than Others?
What was once merely gossip has, over the years, turned into a well-known scientific fact. An estimated 20% of the whole population is way more attractive to mosquitoes than the other 80%. While scientists are still working on an explanation as to why this is happening, they have nevertheless managed to come up with some ideas.
Among these ideas, the specific blood type is the most widely accepted one. This is not all that surprising if you consider the fact that the females need to harvest proteins from our blood so it is only fair that they find some of it to be more attractive than the rest.
Following an experiment, researchers have proven that in a controlled environment mosquitoes landed on subjects with Type O blood almost twice as much as they did on those with Type A. What’s even more curious is that people with Type B were situated somewhere in the middle, not too repulsive but not too edible either.
Furthermore, it’s been revealed that close to 85 percent of all people seem to secrete a chemical sign through their skin which serves to indicate their blood type. As you would expect, mosquitoes were a lot more attracted to the people in the secretors group, regardless of their actual blood type.
Other than the blood type or in relation to it, there are several other factors which have to be taken into account when interpreting how attracted mosquitoes are to a specific person. Due to the disconcerting catalog of illnesses spread by them through their hypodermic mouthparts, this is really essential information to know, especially in the summertime.
Mosquitoes actually use their eyes as the first means to target their victims. Especially later in the afternoon-toward-night, when they usually like to be active, their first mode of search for humans is through vision.
Therefore, wearing dark colors like navy, black or even red will make you easier to spot and be considered for a victim. Try and make a note to self and check for some camouflage summer wear to help in protecting yourself.
Believe it or not, the natural process of breathing can be the one that draws the insects to you. Smelling the carbon dioxide in the air is step number two in the mosquito hunting process, and they appear to be fairly adept at it since they can do it from 164 feet away.
As a result, people who simply exhale more over time, so mostly larger people, seem to be more prone to being bitten than others. This is also the answer as to why children usually get bitten less often than adults.
Our metabolism can be oversimplified as the rate at which our body releases CO2 as it burns energy. While we are born with it, we can still alter it somewhat by things like drinking alcohol and exercising. Both of these can raise your resting metabolic rate and will instantly make you more attractive for the blood-suckers.
Since body heat is one of the main things that attract mosquitoes to our body, any kind of activity which intensifies the heart rate and therefore increases the amount of heat we emit will transform us into shining beacons on their mosquito-radar.
Also, mosquitoes seem to also have a nose for other scents besides carbon dioxide. They can sniff down their prey through lactic acid, uric acid, and even ammonia, all of which are built-up through strenuous exercise. Yes, we know that all couch potatoes are rejoicing at the moment of reading this but it is the sad truth.
Furthermore, some genetics are also at work here when it comes to the amount of substances our body is expelling. Some people seem to always have a mosquito buzzing around their head when they are outdoors while others really seem to be persona non grata in the insect community.
This is actually quite the mysterious observation but it is indeed true. Drinking a single 12-ounce bottle of beer will instantly make someone more attractive to mosquitoes. While scientists first believed that this was due to an increase in the amount of ethanol excreted in sweat or a change in body temperature, both proved to be false and this remains a mystery to this day.
Therefore, considering all of the above, going for a run at dusk and then stopping to have a beer is really just inviting the mosquitoes to come over and have a taste.
While pregnant women are certainly some of the people who least want mosquitoes around, the increased amount of carbon dioxide they exhale as well as the increased temperature around their belly really makes them beacons for the pesky insects.
One study in Africa found that pregnant women seem to be twice as attractive to malaria-carrying mosquitoes as non-pregnant ones, so what this means is really don’t go to another continent while you’re expecting.
What Can It Be Done?
On the whole, if you’ve got one of the blood types mosquitoes seem to love there’s really not much you can do about it. As you have seen, however, there are other factors involved which you can try to influence to lower your appeal to them.
One of the more important things is also keeping a clean skin since apparently even the amount of bacteria on one’s skin can play a role in drawing them in. Since our dermal casing is basically teeming with microscopic life, bringing together more of the gang seems to be a surefire way to also get some mosquito visitors.
Furthermore, scientists are said to be working on a next-generation repellent using a chemical extracted from the bodies of that lucky segment of the population which rarely seems to be attracting any insects.
If all goes as planned, pretty soon a Type O pregnant woman who is exercising at dusk wearing a black t-shirt and having a beer should still be able to ward off mosquitoes without any issues.