VERIFY: Do mosquitoes prefer certain people?

Do mosquitoes prefer certain people?

Mosquitoes are a menace in southern states almost year-round, but they are at their worst during the summer.

A day at the lake or an evening on your patio could leave you itchy for days. Meanwhile, your friend who sat next to you the whole time wasn't affected at all.

Mothers across the country have probably told their children it was because they were "just too sweet," but surely there's a more scientific reason behind why mosquitoes are so picky.

Dr. Carl Stapleton, Director of Environmental Health Sciences at UA Little Rock in Biology, has 15 years of experience when it comes to mosquitoes.

So, what did he have to say about whether mosquitoes prefer some people more than others?

"This is because of the characteristics of 20 percent of the population that are found to be more preferable to mosquitoes," Stapleton said.

But how do the blood-sucking insects decide which 20 percent they will make in to a meal?

"They are like a heat seeking missile when they pick up on a plume of CO2, for example," explained the doctor. "They can get that 30 meters away. So, almost a football field.”

That means people breathing deeply, like athletes, become prime targets for mosquitoes. Beer drinkers are also another on their hit list since popping a tab on a beer emits CO2.

But in most cases, those who attract mosquitoes just have more CO2 when they exhale.

"Sometimes you will find mosquitoes right around your face. They're around your face because of the CO2 concentrations are the greatest right there when you're exhaling," Stapleton said.

Stapleton also told us that perfumes or scented lotions have no effect on mosquitoes.

"There's lots of other factors that scientifically have shown are in fact the most important in terms of attracting mosquitos,” he said.

Dr. Stapleton said there are several reasons why you might be targeted:

  • Sweat
  • Smelly feet
  • Lactic acid
  • Dark clothing

While more research is needed, the doctor also claimed that different blood types could be a factor as well.

A good way to keep mosquitoes away from you is to stay away from stagnant water, wear Deet, and always have a fan handy. Mosquitoes aren't good fliers and fans can help disorient the blood seekers.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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