When mosquitoes are buzzing, are you the most likely person in your family to get bitten? Research has shown that there is truth to the idea that some people attract mosquitoes more than others.
Mosquito bites occur, not because the mosquito is hungry, but because female mosquitoes need the protein found in blood to develop eggs that are fertile. Male mosquitoes don’t need this protein, so they don’t bite.
Scientists have uncovered a number of factors that may attract mosquitoes to some people more than others:
If your blood type is O, you are more likely to get bitten than if you have any other blood type. A controlled study of a small number of test subjects showed type O was nearly twice as popular as type A, which ranked second.
In addition, about 85 percent of people secrete a chemical on their skin that signals what blood type they have. Overall, mosquitoes prefer people who have this chemical scent over those who do not.
Mosquitoes are attracted to certain types of bacteria that live on our skin. This may explain why feet and ankles are common targets for mosquito bites since there are usually more bacteria on those parts of the body.
Mosquitoes can detect carbon dioxide from as far away as 164 feet. In effect, they sniff out probable blood donors by choosing people who produce more carbon dioxide.
In general, larger people exhale more carbon dioxide, making them more likely to get bitten. Heavy breathing caused by exercise can make you more attractive to mosquitoes, as well. This is also a reason why small children are generally less likely to be bitten.
As a rule, pregnant women are about twice as likely to get bitten by mosquitoes as other people. This is partly because women breathe out approximately 21 percent more carbon dioxide when they are pregnant. On average, pregnant women are also 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than usual, which may also attract mosquitoes.