Are you a natural mosquito magnet? Or are you one of the lucky ones who rarely gets bitten? What makes mosquitoes single you out instead of the guy or girl next to you? Read on to find out why mosquitoes prefer to bite some people more often than others.
1. You have the right (or wrong) blood type
Our blood contains nutrients and proteins that female mosquitoes require to produce eggs. Unsurprisingly, they actually find certain blood types more appealing than others.
But before we delve into what makes certain blood types more attractive, here's a primer on human blood types.
There are 4 different blood types
- Blood Type A
- Blood Type B
- Blood Type O
- Blood Type AB
People with different blood types have different types of sugars on the surface of their red blood cells, which are called antigens.
Secretors vs Non-secretors
In addition, secretors, which comprise 80% of the human population, also have the corresponding antigens of their own blood type in body fluids like saliva, sweat or tears. The rest of the population are non-secretors, and their body fluids do not contain these antigens.
A study shows that some Aedes mosquitoes (one of the species of mosquitoes responsible for the spread of dengue fever) actually prefer people with Type O blood more than any other blood types.
The mosquitoes in the study landed on people with Type O blood almost twice as often as people with Type A blood.
However, that doesn't mean that you're safe from mosquito bites if you have Type A blood. Mosquitoes are also more attracted to secretors, or people who have antigens in their saliva, sweat or tears, and are attracted in the following order:
- Type O antigens (Most attractive)
- Type A antigens
- Type B antigens (Least attractive)
(People with Type AB blood have both Type A and Type B antigens.)
So if you're Type B and don't secrete any antigens in your sweat, tears or saliva, lucky you, you're probably least likely to get bitten!
If you're Type O and secrete antigens in your tears or saliva, better stock up on insect repellent!
2. You exhale lots of Carbon Dioxide
Mosquitoes locate their prey by smelling the carbon dioxide emitted in their breath, and can actually detect carbon dioxide from as far as 30m away!
People who exhale more carbon dioxide over time (in general, larger people) therefore attract more mosquitoes than others.
This is part of the reason why our mosquito-control robot, Dragonfly, is so attractive to mosquitoes. He's equipped with an olfactory lure that gives off the smell of carbon dioxide (among other smells). Learn more about Dragonfly here!
3. You have body odour (we're not talking about the usual kind)
Mosquitoes are attracted to lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia and other substances found in sweat.
People who naturally have higher amounts of these substances present on their skin will be more attractive to mosquitoes.
In addition, body odour is also affected by genetics, and the presence of bacteria on your skin. Mosquitoes are particularly attracted by people with an abundance of the same kind of bacteria their skin, but strangely less attracted to those with a variety of different kinds of bacteria on their skin, according to this study.
4. You're hotter than other people
We're talking about temperature, not physical attractiveness here, though they're essentially the same thing to female mosquitoes.
Female mosquitoes naturally seek out warmer bodies when they're trying to find blood to feast on.
Therefore, if you have a higher body temperature than other people around you, you'll be more attractive to mosquitoes.
This is usually the case if:
- You've just exercised
- You're in the later stages of pregnancy, or
- You just naturally have a higher body temperature...
then you're at a higher risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.
5. You love drinking beer
But we know it's hard to quit drinking beer. So if you know you'll be drinking beer outdoors, remember to apply some insect repellent first to protect against mosquito bites. Better to be safe than sorry!
6. You love wearing dark, striped clothing
Research has also shown than mosquitoes prefer to land on dark striped objects, and darker objects in general as compared to light-coloured objects.
So if you really have to wear your favourite dark striped shirt, remember to wear some mosquito repellent too! Or better yet - don't wear that shirt during mosquito/dengue season!
What to do if you're a natural-born mosquito magnet
If you're a natural mosquito magnet, we feel you. Unfortunately, there's nothing much you can do, short of quitting beer (we know it's hard), not wearing dark, stripy clothes (this you can probably do, at least), and wearing lots of insect repellent. It's not like you can change your blood type, genetics or your body composition.
Another thing you could do is to equip yourself with more knowledge about mosquitoes and dengue fever. We've made it easy - read our article on dengue myths to get started.
What we're doing to help
At Oceania Robotics, we're developing the world's first mosquito-control robot, Dragonfly. And we have made him even more of a mosquito magnet than you are, so he can attract and trap female mosquitoes and keep you blissfully itch-free.
He's equipped with an olfactory lure (that emits smells that mosquitoes love most - think carbon dioxide, ammonia, ethanol, etc.), and we've purposely made him warm and stripy so he's extra attractive to female mosquitoes.