Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Some People More Than Others?

Updated 09/17/19
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Anne Menke /Trunk Archive

Have you ever spent time outside only to emerge the next morning with tons of itchy mosquito bites? It’s the worst, and it seems the pesky bugs are more attracted to some individuals than others, which has out to figure out why mosquitoes bite. So it may seem kind of gross, but only female mosquitoes bite humans—they need a diet of blood with all its protein so they are strong enough to produce eggs and offspring (the males simply subsist on a diet of flower nectar). The females pierce our skin with a proboscis—kind of like a needle—so they can poke around to source a capillary (yet again, yuck).

Now that we know the reason mosquitoes bite us, let’s focus on how they’re drawn to some people more than others. “There is no question that some individuals are more attractive to mosquitoes due to chemicals they secrete from their skin and from their particular skin flora,” saysentomologist Joseph M. Conlon, a technical advisor to the American Mosquito Control Association. Below, let us explain which people mosquitoes are more likely to bite and exactly how you can fool the bugs if you happen to be one of the chosen ones.

YOU'RE PREGNANT

When you're carrying another human, chances are you really don't want to deal with mosquito bites. But the reality is these pesky insects tend to be more attracted to pregnant women. Sigh. But, why is that? The bugs are attracted to carbon monoxide, and a study found that women who were far along in their pregnancies exhaled 21% more C02 than women who weren’t expecting. Experts also believe that pregnant women may also give off a certain scent that attracts the pests. 

YOU HAVE A CERTAIN BLOOD TYPE

If you have type O blood, beware. Female mosquitoes are reportedly twice as attracted to humans with this blood type than type A. If you happen to have type B, your desirability to the bugs is in the middle. Plus, around 85% of humans give off a chemical signal indicating what their blood type is (individuals who secrete this chemical are always liked better by the bugs).

you drank a beer

We kind of almost can't believe that this one can be possible, but it is. A study conducted in 2002 found that mosquitoes had a much higher attraction to humans after they consumed just one glass of beer than they had before. While the researchers looked at factors like body temperature or the amount of ethanol you secreted after you drank beer, none of it lined up. The reason beer makes you more desirable is a bit of an enigma.

your skin has more bacteria

Do you remember how at your elementary school science fair, one student would always test the number of bacteria on your skin with a black light and the germs would glow neon? Well, all our skin still contains a certain amount of bacteria, but mosquitoes are particularly enticed by the smell the germs emit. One study found that certain people’s skin makes them “mosquito magnets.” More research is needed to determine which types of bacteria attract or repel the insects.

HOW TO REPEL MOSQUITOES

Other than using bug spray, there are a few tricks that you can keep up your sleeve, especially if you are traveling somewhere that tends to have a high concentration of the buggers. First, wear light-colored clothing—they tend to be drawn to bolder colors like blue, black, and red. Additionally, wear long, loose clothing, as it tends to help eliminate bites on your ankles.

There’s also the option of taking vitamin B as a precaution, which is believed to ward off the bugs. MyDomaine Managing Editor Megan Beauchamp often gets bitten by mosquitoes and chose to take vitamin B supplements once a day for six months before a trip to Colombia’s Tayrona National Park. “I was only bitten a few times, which I consider a success given that we were hiking and camping in a tropical climate,” she says. “We did use a mosquito repellent that we picked up from a drugstore in Colombia, so I can’t say that the supplements were 100% responsible for repelling mosquitos, but taking them certainly didn’t hurt.”

Do you have any tips or tricks for fending off mosquitoes? Share them with us in the comments!

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