Unless you’ve been living in Antarctica for your entire existence, chances are you’ve experienced a mosquito bite at least once. For some, though, they just can’t seem to get away from mosquitoes — and during every warm and humid season, they’re plagued with mosquito bites on a daily basis. Is there a reason for this? Well, the popular opinion among scientists and mosquito experts is that while everyone receives attention from mosquitoes, some seem to attract these pests more than others. The question is: why does this happen and are there techniques to become less attractive to mosquitoes in the future?
Why Mosquitoes Bite Humans
To figure out what you can do to make yourself seem less enticing to mosquitoes, you must first understand why these pests feed on our blood in the first place.
The mosquitoes that bite us are always female. Both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar and honey dew to get the sugars they need to survive. But developing eggs requires proteins that aren’t found in a mosquito’s normal plant-based diet. To get the proteins she needs to develop her eggs, a female mosquito needs blood. That’s why mosquitoes are so keen on biting the creatures that can get them those proteins. And humans just happen to be one of those lucky creatures. But the blood doesn’t actually supply any nutrition to the female mosquito. It’s all for the eggs. And humans are definitely not the only source of blood for mosquitoes. In fact, if you want to learn more about protecting your pets from mosquitoes, check out this post.
Of course, as motherly as it is for a mosquito to provide for her offspring, we humans could do without it. The itchiness is, of course, unpleasant. But In the U.S. we can consider ourselves lucky. Elsewhere in the world, the problem is much, much worse. Mosquitoes can carry and transmit multiple illnesses — including Zika, yellow fever, and malaria — creating a huge health risk for adults and children. Huge efforts have been made to reduce the spread of these illnesses. Still, in 2017 alone, 219 million people contracted malaria and 435,000 people died. (See World Health Organization data here: https://www.who.int/malaria/en/)
What We’re Doing To Attract Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes aren’t very good at flying. Or seeing. Or writing blog posts (that’s good news for us). But they are great at smelling. The primary way that mosquitoes identify potential targets is by smell. Scientists don’t actually know everything mosquitoes are smelling for, but we do know a lot. One of the main things mosquitoes look for is carbon dioxide. All warm-blooded animals exhale carbon dioxide. So if a female mosquito picks up a stream of CO2, she knows she’s found a target. Of course, you can’t just stop exhaling. So how do you become less attractive?
It turns out that exercise makes you more attractive to mosquitoes. Exercise does two things. First, it speeds up respiration, causing you to huff and puff even more CO2. Second, when you exercise, lactic acid builds up in your muscles. That’s why you get sore after a good workout. The way your body gets rid of that lactic acid is by sweating it out. Mosquitoes smell that lactic acid and peg you as their next blood meal. Bam! You just worked out, and you are a walking bullseye for mosquitoes. Luckily, it’s not hard to get rid of that lactic acid. Just take a few minutes to rest and then a good shower to wash off all that sweat.
Speaking of sweat, sweat smells great to mosquitoes. So if it’s a hot day, you may be out of luck. But the cleaner you can keep, the less the mosquitoes will notice you.
One intriguing new study found that some people’s sweat is especially attractive to mosquitoes. Meanwhile, other people seem to fly under the radar with an unattractive scent. While the research is still ongoing, it seems that the variety of microbes on your skin plays a part in your smell and subsequent attractiveness.
The Genetics of Mosquitoes Attraction
Some researchers believe genetics plays a part in why pests like mosquitoes are so keen on feeding on our blood. As a matter of fact, a recent study shows 85% of an average person’s susceptibility to being bitten is due to genetics alone.
This goes hand-in-hand with what we’ve already discussed about mosquito attraction. What is about genetics that gives you away? It’s believed that some individuals, depending on their genetic makeup, can produce more mosquito-attracting chemicals. Uric acid, cholesterol, and various steroids are much more prominent on the surface of some people’s skin than on others. Taken all together, this gives each human a unique bouquet. And some people just have a genetic bouquet that mosquitoes love.
How To Become Less Attractive to Mosquitoes
While there’s not much you can do about the genetic makeup of your skin, you can try to decrease your likelihood of being bitten by a mosquito in other ways.
For example, the more you weigh, the more carbon dioxide (a proven mosquito attractant) you produce. Thus, by focusing on diet and exercise, you not only reap the benefits of a healthier figure and lifestyle, but you also reduce the risk of being bitten by a mosquito as well. And even if you’re overweight, you don’t have to smell bad. Keeping clean goes a long way toward avoiding mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes also have lousy vision, but they still use it to find targets. With such poor vision, the best they can do is look for large, dark silhouettes that might be their next blood meal. The only way they can differentiate you from a tree is that you move. So the less you move, the more likely mosquitoes are to think you’re a tree and no good to bite. Of course, if making like a tree isn’t your style, you can try to decrease your silhouette. Wearing light colored clothes make you much harder for mosquitoes to see.
While we’re on the topic of clothes, what you wear can also make it harder for mosquitoes to get to you. It might seem that wearing long sleeves and pants would help, but that’s only half the answer. Unfortunately, mosquitoes can bite through many types of clothing. So the key is to wear long sleeves and pant that aren’t skin-tight. If there is space between the clothing and your skin, the mosquito simply can reach you to bite you!
Keeping The Mosquitoes at Bay
Of course, if you really want to keep the mosquitoes away, there’s more to do than just make yourself unattractive. The best way to keep the mosquitoes off of you is to implement effective methods for mosquito control. You can create a mosquito-free zone around your home and yard with the help of Mr. Mister. Mr. Mister offers multiple techniques for controlling mosquitoes that are proven to work in the fight against mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.
To learn more about our automatic mosquito control systems or any of our other mosquito control tips and services, explore our website and our blog.
We hope you’re finding our Atlanta Mosquito Control blog helpful and informative! For more information on what makes Mr. Mister Atlanta’s premier provider of innovative mosquito control solutions and techniques click here. Or, visit our testimonials page to see what some of our satisfied customers are saying.