Being bitten by mosquitoes is par for the course during an Australian summer. The consequences are usually mild but can be more severe depending on the locale as many Northern Territorians and Queenslanders can attest to.
Some people are mostly left alone by them while other people tend to get swarmed the moment they step outside. But why do mosquitoes bite some people more than others?
This is an age-old question that has been answered by dermatologist Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky in a now viral series of TikTok videos.
“Why do some people get bit up by mosquitoes but for others, it’s like they don’t even know they exist? There’s actually a scientific reason for that,” Dr Zubritsky poses at the start of each video.
@dermguru Part ✌️ #mosquito #mosquitobites #dermexplains #dermguru #dermtok #mosquitobite #bugbites ♬ Quirky – Oleg Kirilkov
One of the main reasons that she cites is blood type. As it turns out, those with O blood types are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes. This may be the one downside to being a universal blood donor.
Another major reason is the body’s natural bacteria. Some people naturally have bacteria on their skin which makes them more attractive to mosquitoes.
This is also why people are more likely to be bitten on the ankles because the ankles tend to harbour bacterial colonies. Turns out there’s a scientific reason why mosquitoes are quite the little ankle-biters.
Sweating is also a factor that affects whether someone is more or less likely to be bitten by mosquitoes. Ammonia, uric acid, and lactic acid are byproducts that are excreted through sweat whenever someone exercises.
People who exercise regularly tend to sweat more and excrete more byproducts, even when they aren’t deliberately exercising. It seems being in good health can have its downsides after all.
This isn’t an excuse not to exercise, however. Breathing and in turn weight are linked to being bitten more by mosquitoes. Those who are larger or overweight tend to breathe more often and expel more carbon dioxide, making them more attractive to mosquitoes.
According to Dr. Zubritsky, the colour of clothes is another factor that affects the likelihood of mosquito bites. Lighter colours such as white tend to be less easy for mosquitoes to detect while darker colours such as green are much easier.
Drinking beer was brought up as a factor by Dr. Zubritsky as well. She cited a study in which participants who drank a single twelve-ounce can of beer were bitten by mosquitoes more than those who were sober.
However, due to the study’s small sample size, many scientists do not consider its findings to be good science. A win for the tipplers out there!