Why Do Some People Get Attacked By Mosquitos More Than Others?

Living in D.C. means I'm highly subject to mosquitos because of the warm and humid climate. After living in a sometimes swamp-esque place, I've noticed some of my friends get bit more frequently than others. Even if we're in the same place, a few of us always come out with more bites than others. Why is that?

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Lab studies show that roughly 20% of people are yummier than others, at least for mosquitos. In particular, those with higher metabolic rates produce more carbon dioxide, and carbon dioxide is what attracts mosquitos in the first place. Not to mention, Lactic acid (which is produced when you exercise), acetone (a chemical released in via breath), and estradiol (product of estrogen). People who produce a lot of these, for example pregnant women, are more likely to get bitten.

Additionally, it is important to note that mosquitos are surprisingly visual creatures. Mosquitos typically choose their victims based on sight first. If you're looking to escape the outdoors unscathed, try to avoid wearing dark colors like black, navy blue, red stand out. 

Blood type also plays a big part in what can attract mosquitos to you. Mosquitos do not eat blood for sustenance, but rather for a protein the females need to develop their eggs. In one study, mosquitoes landed on people with Type O blood nearly twice as often as those with Type A. 

Bacteria can also be tantalizing to certain mosquitos. Scientists have found that having large amounts of a few types of bacteria made skin more appealing to mosquitoes. This is why you so often get bites around your feet and ankles - they find your foot bacteria yummy.

I also have some bad news for those who like having a drink outside. Having a 12-ounce beer can make you more delectable. However, it's a bit of a mystery why it attracts mosquitos more , though. Researchers once thought it was because it raised body heat or made the body secrete ethanol. However, it was discovered that neither of these correlated.

Recent studies also seem to suggest that what compels mosquitos might not be as lucrative as finding out what repels them. For example, perhaps people who receive less bites produce chemicals on their skin that make them more repellant, or even cover up smells that mosquitoes might normally find attractive. Figuring out this could mean less bites for everyone.

The above image is from wikimedia commons and was created by 根川大橋 it is liscensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.