Are you more attractive to mosquitoes?
With researchers predicting that West Nile virus will continue to be a “formidable” health problem for many years to come, a recent article from The Smithsonian is suggesting that mosquitoes have a human “type” that they prefer.
According to the article, there are number of factors that make you more attractive to the winged pests, including:
- Blood type—in one study, mosquitoes landed on people with Type O blood twice as often as those with Type A
- Carbon dioxide—since mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide emissions (e.g. people’s breath), individuals who exhale more over time tend to attract more mosquitoes
- Exercise and metabolism—mosquitoes are attracted to lactic acid and other substances secreted in sweat, as well as increased body temperatures. So congrats on being healthy and exercising, but you’re a more attractive target to the bugs.
- Bacteria—some research has found that mosquitoes are attracted to bacteria on the surface of the skin, which is why they’re more likely to go after feet and ankles, which have more bacteria
- Pregnancy—some studies have found that pregnant women tend to attract more mosquitoes because of exhaling more carbon dioxide and increased body temperature
Regardless of how appealing mosquitoes may find you, it’s always a good idea to wear insect repellant during heightened West Nile months.
- Use insect repellents when you go outside, especially during peak mosquito hours. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide good protection. Make sure to follow the label instructions.
- Apply only to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the label).
- Don’t use repellents over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
- When using repellent sprays, do not spray directly on your face—spray on your hands first and then apply to your face.
- Do not allow children to handle or spray the product. When using on children, apply to your own hands first and then put it on the child.
- Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing. Heavy application does not give you better or longer lasting protection.
- After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly in a day or on consecutive days.
- If you (or your child) get a rash or other reaction from a repellent, stop using the repellent, wash the repellent off with mild soap and water, and call a local poison control center for further guidance. If you go to a doctor, it might be helpful to take the repellent with you.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.