Why do mosquitoes love me? This is what the science says
"Why do mosquitoes love me? Why does it have to be ME in particular?"
If you're a true mozzie magnet, you'll have muttered that under your breath at least once. You've probably said it when you were out with friends and everyone else seems fine but somehow the entire population of mosquitoes in your area have managed to find you and they're lined up for the buffet. So, are you just imagining it? Do the mosquitoes really love you in particular? Well, the science says it's probably not just your imagination.
Why do mosquitoes love me?
Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide you exhale (and body heat). Then they use the smell of the hundreds of chemicals on your skin to determine whether you're a good blood source. This can be influenced by your blood type, pregnancy, diet (ie drinking beer) and more.
Why mosquitoes love some people more than others comes down to the combination of chemicals on your skin. These chemicals are produced by the bacteria on your skin and can be found in your sweat. Because everyone's skin flora is different, the amount and type of chemicals released from your skin will be completely different to the next person.
Some factors that may make you more attractive to mosquitoes include:
- Your blood type (type O in particular)
- Your skin flora
- Drinking beer
- Lack of body hair
- Body heat and sweat
- Exhaling lots of carbon dioxide
- Black coloured clothing
Importantly though, what attracts one species of mosquito is completely different to the next species! That's why there isn't a really clear list of what does and doesn't increase your risk of getting bitten.
Are some people immune to mozzie bites?
Well, probably not! If you're the only one in a group that seems to be getting bitten, it's probably not actually the case. Part of the reason why we notice a mosquito bites is the itch and that itch is caused by a reaction to mosquito saliva.
Simply put, some people react to mosquito spit more than others. So if you're getting bitten and no one else is scratching, know that everyone around is probably being bitten too.
That's why it is super important not to get complacent about mozzies when you're outside - even if you're not a mozzie magnet! It only takes a single bite for a mozzie to pass on Ross River virus or Dengue fever - whether you notice the bite or not.
How to protect yourself if you're a mozzie magnet
There are a few key things you can do to protect yourself from being bitten:
- Wear long sleeved, light coloured, loosely fitted clothing
- Avoid going outside during peak mozzie hours (dusk and dawn particularly)
- Install fine mesh bug screens on your windows or use mosquito netting to protect beds, prams and cribs
- Apply (and re-apply) an effective insect repellent
Mozzie prone areas tend to have still bodies of water nearby. This doesn't need to be things like lakes and dams. It can also include saucers underneath your pot plants, fish ponds or even drains around your home. Tipping out stagnant water sources, where possible, can help reduce the number of mozzies around your home.
Should you be applying an insect repellent daily?
If you're living in a mozzie prone area and you're outside all of the time, absolutely!
When you're applying an insect repellent daily, it's really important to factor in the safety of the product that you're using. DEET-based repellents are not recommended for daily use over extended periods of time so keep that in mind if you're needing to apply daily.
An insect repellent also should not impact your day-to-day living. DEET repellents are really effective solvents and can damage plastics (ie the interior of your car, sunglasses, thongs, etc) and some synthetic fabrics.
The smell and feel of a repellent can also be a barrier to regular application. After all, who wants to smell like you've walked into a business meeting straight from a camping trip? If you find yourself avoiding a repellent because of the smell and feel, it's time to start searching for an alternative that doesn't impact your daily life.
This is one of the reasons why we created Good Riddance Insect Repellent. Our range of DEET-free insect repellents were designed to offer a high level of protection for long term, regular application. We also put a lot of effort into formulating a light-weight, non-greasy product that smells good enough that it could pass as a perfume or cologne.
Whichever repellent you choose, be sure you've selected one that is APVMA approved (there will be an approval number on the label). This will ensure that the product you're buying has been clinically tested and proven to protect against mosquitoes while also being safe to use.