After playing football through a long afternoon, I return home tired and want to do nothing but rest. However, when I reach home, I end up playing tennis, not with anyone else, but with a swarm of mosquitoes. Literally, it’s like Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal in my house – it’s a marathon. I keep swinging my mosquito swatter at the mosquitoes, but they keep coming for me. My family loves watching this intense battle, just watching in amazement, as I am the only one being attacked by the mosquitoes. They are apparently invisible.
Well, as it turns out, this unfair attention is not just a figment of my imagination. Mosquitoes love the blood of some unlucky souls, while they seem totally uninterested in others.
How Do Mosquitoes Hunt Their Prey?
Carbon Dioxide Emission
Mosquitoes use an organ called a maxillary palp, which contains highly sensitive chemical receptors that mosquitoes use to hunt their prey. Mosquitoes attack people who release more carbon dioxide from their body. Using their maxillary palp, mosquitoes are able to spot people who emit more carbon dioxide – even from a distance of 100 meters! Larger people tend to emit more carbon dioxide, which is the reason why pregnant women have a much greater chance of being bitten by mosquitoes.
Body Movement, Lactic Acid, and Heat Release
When we exercise, work out, or do any rigorous physical task, we emit lactic acid, along with a lot of heat, and mosquitoes are able to sense this lactic acid. Physical activities make our blood pump harder, which results in a lot of sweat and heat making our blood all the more delicious to mosquitoes!
In effect, a person who releases more heat from his or her body is at a higher risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes. This again puts pregnant women at greater risk, as they release more heat from their body as compared to others.
Studies have shown that mosquitoes have a preference for a particular blood type. People with type O blood are more prone to mosquito bites, as compared to type B, while the least favored blood by mosquitoes is type A. It turns out that people aren’t the only ones who love universal donors’ blood (Type O) – mosquitoes do too.
Studies have shown that just 12 ounces of beer makes your blood more appealing to mosquitoes. In other words, for all you drinkers out there, mosquitoes would love to have a drink with you (or rather, from you).
Color of Your Clothes
As absurd as it sounds, it seems that mosquitoes have something resembling a fashion sense. Mosquitoes love dark colors, so if you’re wearing dark-colored clothes, mosquitoes are much more likely to land on your skin!
Some people attract friends, some seem to have animals drawn to them, but there are also those unlucky people who seem to be mosquito magnets.
What kind of person are you?
- Chiggers – University of Illinois Extension
- I’m a Mosquito Magnet – Am I Normal? – University of Utah Health Care