ARIZONA, USA — It’s probably not in your head: If mosquitoes seem more prone to bite you or your friend over someone else, there’s probably a reason.
“It’s definitely true that there are some people who are like mosquito magnets,” Kathleen Walker, a Medical Entomologist at the University of Arizona, said.
Mosquitoes do like some people more than others, here’s why:
All mosquitoes like carbon dioxide
Walker said no matter the type of mosquito, they all like one thing: carbon dioxide.
“All mosquitoes are going to look for carbon dioxide because everything that they could possibly be biting is going to breathe that out in large amounts,” Walker said.
However, Walker said, not all mosquitoes like to bite people. They usually just accidentally bite people.
An exception, though is the aedes aegypti mosquito, also known as the “ankle-biters."
They live here in Arizona, and Walker said the always female mosquitoes do like to bite people and have studied why.
One factor is chemicals found in human sweat.
“She is really attracted to some of the chemicals that are in our sweat, and not really so much like sweaty armpit sweat,” Walker said. ‘You know, sweat all over our skin.”
It’s so attractive Maricopa County’s Environmental Services Department uses it to catch those ankle-biter mosquitoes.
“The traps that we use for ankle biters do have an attractant that mimics sweat,” John Townsent, Vector Control Division Manager for the county, said.
How you smell
Research points to how someone smells to those mosquitoes and makes them more attracted to those people.
New research is also showing the people mosquitoes are attracted to have more carboxylic acids on their skin than those they don’t find as attractive.
Some research has indicated that blood type may be a consideration too, but the specific blood type that mosquitoes like varies from study to study.
“From a scientific point of view, that's one of the least interesting questions to me because there's no way we can change your blood type. So it doesn't really help us protect people,” Walker said.
Repellant can help those mosquito ‘favorites’
If you’re one of the people mosquitoes love, Walker recommends using repellant, even on your clothes.
‘There are two things you’re trying to do. One of them is to hide your scent,” Walker said. “Another thing is to actually smell bad to the mosquito.”
Beyond DEET repellant, Walker said lemon eucalyptus oil or keratin are also proven to repel mosquitoes, but they are only effective for about two hours.
However, beyond your person, the biggest mosquito attractant is standing water.
Townsend said even something as small as a bottlecap full could be enough for mosquitoes to breed.
“The biggest thing you can do is to get rid of standing water we have, you know, what we call, ‘tip and toss,’” Townsend said.
Up to Speed
Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.