Oh, yeah, summer’s here. Mosquitos are also celebrating their comeback with it. But what attracts mosquitos? Why are some people more prone to mosquito bites than others?
There are some rumors about what attracts mosquitos in particular. The best known are open windows while the light is turned on at night and sweet blood. However, these assumptions are not really true or only indirectly.
But according to new scientific findings from studies there is an interesting factor, which might surprise you: The blood type 0.
Why this is the case and which factors attract mosquitos and which do not, you will find out in this article.
If you don’t have time to read and you really just want the answer to be short and crisp, then take a look at the following info box.
Quick answer: What attracts mosquitos?
- Carbon dioxide
- Blood type 0 and so-called “secretors”
- Sweat and body heat
- Skin bacteria
- Beer / Alcohol
- Dark / eye-catching clothing
This does NOT attract mosquitos
a) Open window + light
Only certain types of mosquitos, such as Chironomidae, are attracted to light. But biting mosquitos are generally not among them. The fact that more mosquitos enter your room when there is light at night and the window is open has another reason.
So in a way, the open window plays a role. If windows and doors are closed or are effectively secured by a fly screen or similar mosquito repellent, no mosquitos can penetrate.
However, they are not attracted by the light but by the other factors in the info box. These are presented in more detail below.
b) The “sweet” blood myth
Even the commonly used, colloquial argument with sweet blood attracting mosquitos is not really true. However, blood itself is not such a bad indication. But not “sweet” blood is the reason, your blood type is.
You can find out more about this in the following part, where it’s all about what attracts mosquitos.
These factors attract mosquitos
1) Carbon dioxide
Mosquitos are attracted by the carbon dioxide (CO2) we exhale. This means that if you turn off the light but leave the window open, mosquitos will still be attracted.
By the way, carbon dioxide is also the reason why mosquitos like to annoy us during the night with their nerve-racking cooing. Because the concentration of carbon dioxide is logically highest at the head. And the ears are quite close to the mouth and nose.
2) Blood type / blood characteristics
A lot of things are unfair in life. According to some scientific findings, such as a Japanese study, mosquitos are particularly attracted to one blood group: Blood group 0. That finally explains a lot for me…
In contrast to people with blood type A, people with blood type 0 were stung almost twice as often in the study.
Even more important than the blood type – according to the study – could be the fact whether you are a so-called “secretor” meaning that your antigens are also contained in your sweat or body fluids. Apparently 80-85 % of people are secretors.
If you are both a secretor and have blood group 0, mosquitos are particularly attracted to you.
3) Sweat and body temperature
Mosquitos have a good nose for smells. That’s why they are attracted to sweat. They contain lactic acid, ammonia, fatty acids and other compounds.
In sports you heat up your body and increase the production of these compounds. This increases your attractiveness for mosquitos.
4) Skin bacteria
Another study found that mosquitos could also be attracted by large amounts of some skin bacteria.
Surprisingly, subjects with a greater bacterial diversity were less affected than those with fewer different bacterial species but larger and more stable bacterial colonies. To put it another way: People with larger colonies but fewer species of bacteria were more attractive to mosquitos.
This might also be a reason why mosquitos like to choose feet and ankles to bite. Apparently, stable bacterial colonies are often found in these areas, although the diversity is not so great.
5) Pregnant women
According to another study, pregnant women attract twice as many mosquitos as non-pregnant women. One possible reason is that, for example, pregnant women exhale up to 21% more carbon dioxide and also have a slightly higher body temperature.
6) Beer or alcohol
Beer should also make us more susceptible to mosquito bites. At least that’s what this study found out. However, the cause has not yet been identified.
The suspicion that it would be due to the rising ethanol content in sweat or indirectly an increased body temperature, could not be confirmed so far. Only that the attractiveness for mosquitos increases, was so observed in the investigation.
7) Color of your clothing
The color of your clothes also has an influence on your attractiveness for mosquitos. Dark and conspicuous clothing is easier for mosquitos to spot. Therefore, general mosquito protection tips often include the point that you should wear light (as well as long and airy) clothing.
Conclusion: What attracts mosquitos?
There are many different factors that influence the attractiveness of mosquitos. Unfortunately, we have no real influence on most of them. According to some scientists, our genes have the greatest influence with 85%.
Even if you are one of the most popular victims of mosquitos, there is only one thing that helps: Make sure you have good mosquito protection. Especially in regions where mosquitos transmit dangerous diseases.
Cover photo: @ Noppharat_th /depositphotos