Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Makes Certain People More Attractive to Mosquitoes?

Today is Thursday, July 18, 2013.

If you think mosquitoes like you better than other people, you may be right.  If you want to know why, Dr. Phil Koehler of the University of Florida has some answers.  

I originally thought about writing this for my mother, who complains each summer that the bugs seem to love her.  She has the bites to prove it.  However, in her case, it may be the little gnats that prefer her type.  None of the things on the list below applies to my mother.  

Whatever.  For what it's worth, here are Dr. Koehler's findings, some of which includes research done in other places.

Mosquitoes like like blood type O.  Believe it or not, people secrete a substance that allows mosquitoes to identify blood type before they bite you.  They prefer O over A, but then this study was done in Japan, where B and AB are extremely rare.  I'd love to see some research done in the U.S.A. 

Mosquitoes like beer.  Apparently, more mosquitoes land on people after they have consumed beer.  Wonder what a drunk mosquito would look like...

Mosquitoes like to fool around during the full moon.  Mosquitoes are 500 times more active when the moon is full.  If you like to fool around during the full moon, just remember that mosquitoes do, too.  By the way, the peak times for mosquito activity are dusk and dawn. Some mosquitoes will fly 40 miles for a bite.  (Also, by the way, only female mosquitoes bite, not males. Don't ask me why.)

Mosquitoes like smelly feet and Limburger cheese.  The dirtier and smellier your feet are, the more mosquitoes will land on your feet, so do yourself a favor and keep 'em covered.  Everyone will thank you.  Oh, and don't eat Limburger cheese outdoors at dusk or dawn when the moon is full.   The thing about Limburger cheese is this: the bacterium used to ferment the cheese is the same as one found on human skin and this particular bacterium is partially responsible for body odor, especially foot odor.

Mosquitoes like expectant mothers.  Researchers theorize that part of the reason for this is that pregnant women, especially in the later stages of pregnancy,  exhale 21 percent more volume, and the mosquitoes are drawn to the carbon dioxide, as well as the moisture content in the breath.   Also pregnant women are up to 1 degree warmer in their abdomen, probably due to all the activity going on there, so the sweat released on their skin is particularly attractive to mosquitoes.  We all know how heat seems to make odors stronger.

Mosquitoes like runners.  If your game plan is to run away from the mosquitoes, forget it.  They like runners (and anyone who exercises in the heat) because they sweat more.  Mosquitoes are drawn to the lactic acid in the sweat, which is released by muscles as they work hard.  Runners and exercisers also breathe harder, and, as I mentioned above, they love the carbon dioxide that we exhale. 

Mosquitoes like dark clothes, especially red and black.  Black clothes are most attractive, then red.  Gray and blue are neutral.  Green, khaki and yellow are less attractive.  Light-colored clothes in general are less attractive than dark ones.

So... sorry, Mom, I don't know why the bugs like you so much.   :-/

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