If you’ve clicked into this article, chances are you’re the person who always gets bitten by mosquitoes while everyone else enjoys their al fresco dinner in sleeveless tops without a care in the world.
Why is that mosquitoes prefer some people to others? And why is it you?
The first thing to know is that it’s not all in your head – mozzies genuinely have a taste for some people rather than others, and there are various factors at play. Some things we can control but, sadly, the vast majority of the reasons mosquitoes are attracted to you is because of your genetic makeup.
You’ve probably heard it a million times: your blood must taste sweeter! Well, it’s something like that. Dr Jonathan Day, a medical entomologist and mosquito expert at the University of Florida, says, “Some people produce more of certain chemicals in their skin and a few of those chemicals, like lactic acid, attract mosquitoes.”
And just as we prefer different grape varieties, mosquitoes are fussy about which blood they like to drink – there is some evidence that O blood type is preferable to mozzies than A or B, reports Time.
It’s believed the most important genetic factor that attract the little blighters is your metabolic rate, or the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) your body releases as it burns energy. Mozzies seek out carbon dioxide, knowing that it comes out of tasty food sources, AKA you.
Being overweight or obese, drinking alcohol or doing exercise all raise your metabolic rate, making you more attractive to mozzies.They are also believed to be attracted to other chemicals that can reside on the skin.
“People with high concentrations of steroids or cholesterol on their skin surface attract mosquitoes,” Jerry Butler from the University of Florida tells WebMD. But that doesn’t mean mosquitoes prey on people with higher overall levels of cholesterol – these people simply may be more efficient at processing cholesterol, with the byproducts remaining on the skin’s surface.
Another factor that draws in the blood-suckers is movement. Ask yourself: are you the one most likely to gesticulate wildly during a story? Mozzie’s can’t see too well, so they use movement to separate you from, say, the wall behind you.
If you’re an arm-waver, there’s not much you can do to change, so make sure you wear light coloured clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Why light-coloured? Mosquitoes fly low and compare your silhouette to the horizon. Dark colours stand out, whereas light colours tend to blend in.
A fan can also work wonders. “Mosquitoes can’t fly in a breeze faster than 1 mile per hour,” says Dr Day.
And, of course, a good quality mozzie spray will help. Just remember to spray it onto your hands or close to the skin so you’re not inhaling the chemicals, or try making our natural mozzie repellant here.