Ever wonder why you get bit by mosquitoes more than other people (or vice versa – why you don’t get bit as much)? What affects how tasty you are to mosquitoes include:
CO2 Excretion: A key targeting mechanism that mosquitoes use to find their human targets is smelling the CO2 we excrete when we exhale. “When female mosquitoes [only the females bite] sense carbon dioxide they usually adopt a zigzagging flight path within the plume to locate its source. Once in the general vicinity of a potential host, other cues predominate, including body odors (sweat, lactic acid, etc.) and heat.” Source. Mosquitoes can target the exhale of CO2 from up to 35 meters away. Larger people excrete more CO2 than smaller people and thus are are easier targets for mosquitoes.
Blood Type: Mosquitoes prefer to bite people with Type O blood while the least attractive blood is Type A. Why does blood type matter to mosquitoes? “Mosquitoes may be able to sense the saccharides that people secrete from the skin, based on different blood types, and use that to select their preferred victims.” Source.
Drinking Beer: This one is a total bummer. It turns out that drinking beer (even one) will make you more attractive to mosquitoes. Why this is the case isn’t known.
Color of Your Clothing: Mosquitoes are highly visual and according to Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, what you wear can affect your attractiveness to mosquitoes. People dressed in dark colors — black, navy blue, red — stand out to mosquitoes and get bitten more.
The Composition of Bacteria on Your Skin: The type and diversity of bacteria on your skin affects how much mosquitoes like you. We tend to be bitten on our ankles and feet more than other locations because we have more robust microbial communities there.
A Host of Other Chemicals Excreted: Humans give off more than 340 unique scents — some of them are attractive to mosquitoes. “Either singly or in combination, many of these compounds may be attractants – and many may be repellents.” Source. Thus, what attracts mosquitoes is complicated. Further, there are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes and what various species find attractive varies.
Unfortunately, most of these are not factors over which we have control. Note that wearing a mask, in addition to inhibiting the spread of Covid,should help us not be bitten by mosquitoes as it interferes with the CO2 we exhale.