I was at a party the other night and witnessed a conversation that bordered on argument. The argument didn’t cover favorite sports teams or politics even. The argument conversation was all about who got bit more by mosquitoes.
Perhaps you have heard these conversations, “I am a pin cushion” “I can’t go outside without getting bit”. It almost becomes a badge of honor saying ‘my blood is more valuable than yours’.
But is there any truth to statements that some people get bit more than others by mosquitoes? Maybe you are the one that gets bit so much that you hate going outdoors.
So, why do mosquitoes bite me so much?
It’s true, mosquitoes have discerning fashion taste. Or at least, they’re more likely to spot you as a target if you stand out from your environment. Dark colors, especially, will attract more of the insect.
Similarly, the more you move, the easier you are to identify as a living, breathing, vessel full of delicious blood.
Visual clues allow the mosquito to locate you from relatively far away, but as she approaches, it’s your body heat that draws her in. This puts pregnant women, who average about 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than others, at a particular risk — a fact which has been substantiated by a number of studies.
This is another reason pregnant women are at a disadvantage. Mosquitoes can detect carbon dioxide using a special organ called a maxillary palp from as far as 164 feet away. Since everyone emits CO2 simply by exhaling, it comes down to relative amounts. Unfortunately for mothers-to-be, pregnancy causes women to emit 21 percent more CO2. This is also why kids are often safe from bites, when bigger, more CO2-emitting adults are around.
On the flip side, pregnant women are (presumably) avoiding another mosquito attractor: alcohol. Although it’s unclear how mosquitoes go about detecting the presence of ethanol, studies show that drinking even just 12 ounces of beer will significantly increase the attention you receive from the pests.
THE PROPERTIES OF YOUR SKIN AND SWEAT
Up to 85 percent of your susceptibility to mosquito bites has nothing to do with what you’re drinking or wearing — it’s just genetic. Specifically, the composition of your skin bacteria — the kind that naturally and healthily exists there — can serve as an attractor. As can the levels of lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia, and other substances present in your sweat.
Another factor you can’t control? Your blood type. And it stands to reason that, if the mosquito is there to suck your blood, she cares what kind she’s getting. People with blood type O are more prone to mosquito bites than those with type B, with type A folks bringing up the rear.
Some interesting facts about the mosquito bite that you may not know is that only the female mosquito will bite you. The reason they are the only ones biting you is because they are not using your blood for food. Blood has a certain protein that they need in order to breed and grow eggs. So if you want to be the annoying expert at the next party, when someone says “Mosquitoes like to feed on me.” you can correct their science by informing them that mosquitoes are in-fact, not feeding on you at all.