Ever wonder why some folks seem to be magnets for mosquitoes, while others rarely get bitten? What makes the little buggers single you out and not the guy or gal you're standing next to at the backyard barbecue?
Mosquitoes bite us to harvest proteins from our blood and they may find certain blood types more appetizing than others. One study found that in a controlled setting, mosquitoes landed on people with Type O blood nearly twice as often as those with Type A. People with Type B blood fell somewhere in the middle of this itchy spectrum.
One of the key ways mosquitoes locate their targets is by smelling the carbon dioxide emitted when we breathe. Mosquitos can detect carbon dioxide from as far as 164 feet away. People, who simply exhale more of the gas, have been shown to attract more mosquitoes.
Drinking just a single 12-ounce bottle of beer can make you more attractive to mosquitoes. Researchers suspect this because drinking increases the amount of ethanol excreted in sweat and because it increases body temperature.
Pregnant women have been found to attract roughly twice as many mosquito bites as others. Two factors: are: They exhale about 21 percent more carbon dioxide and are on average about 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than others.
This one might seem absurd, but mosquitoes use vision (along with scent) to locate humans, so wearing colors that stand out (black, dark blue or red) may make you easier to find, at least according to James Day, a medical entomologist at the University of Florida, in commentary he gave to NBC.
A few more fun facts about mosquitoes and bites:
- Eating bananas will not attract mosquitoes and taking vitamin B-12 will not repel them; these are old wives' tales.
- Some mosquito species are leg and ankle biters; they cue into the stinky smell of bacteria on your feet.
- Other species prefer the head, neck and arms perhaps because of the warmth, smells emitted by your skin, and closeness to carbon dioxide released by your mouth.
- The size of a mosquito bite welt has nothing to do with the amount of blood taken and everything to do with how your immune system responds to the saliva introduced by the mosquito into your skin.
- The more times you get bitten by a particular species of mosquito, the less most people react to that species over time. The bad news? There's more than 3,000 species worldwide.