(WHNT) — Yes indeed, you are a mosquito magnet.
“Mosquitoes are looking for a good meal, and it’s for their offspring, for their children to so speak. Humans are a prime opportunity for them to get what they need,” says Alabama A&M Entomologist Ken Ward.
It turns out mosquitoes have to have blood to complete the life cycle of their eggs, and female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite.
We’re obviously great sources for mosquito food, and we even do things where we live to make sure mosquitoes prosper. “All you’ve got to have is a vase with some water in it sitting beside your house, and you can get hundreds of little mosquito larvae in there,” says Ward. As we all know, standing water in any container is a mosquito factory. Not good when you consider they can carry disease.
It gets even more depressing when you know how easy it is for “skeeters” to home in on humans. They’re attracted to our body heat for one thing. For another we breathe, and when we do, we exhale carbon dioxide. “Carbon dioxide indicates that there is a potential host there. They can smell it from a distance,” says Doctor Ward.”
Stacy and Patrick Condren recently returned from a camping trip at Oak Mountain near Birmingham. “They don’t tend to bother me much,” says Stacy. She adds that her husband Patrick was essentially “eaten up” by mosquitoes while they were camping. “They seem to be attracted to me. It’s reflected by the bites I see later on, when I come back from camping,” says Patrick with a laugh.
It turns out there’s a good reason for Patrick to be more of a target than Stacy. He’s a guy, and guys are usually bigger than women. Bigger people produce more carbon dioxide, and hence are more attractive to mosquitoes. That also explains why pregnant women are very attractive to mosquitoes. Obviously they’re larger, plus they likely have chemicals on their skin that attract mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors more than light. Dark colors allow them to see us better. They’re also attracted to movement. That could explain why kids seem to get bitten so regularly as they play in the evening.
Another mosquito attractant is lactic acid. It’s what we all produce as we exercise, and mosquitoes love it. “When you’re standing around after a run or a bike ride, they’re attacking you pretty badly,” says Runner David Kyle
Of course David could be one of the people who mosquitoes love best. “They say about one in ten people are considered highly attractive to mosquitoes,” says Doctor Ward. The reason for the “extra” attraction is the combination of chemicals on a the person’s skin. On some people those chemicals produce a body odor that is the mosquito equivalent of a grilling steak.
The bottom line in all this, mosquitoes like taking their meals on humans, and we are readily available. Some of us are particularly attractive.
You can try wearing light colors, not moving much, not going out in the evenings when mosquitoes are most active. Unfortunately they’ll find you when you do go out. Mosquito repellents are the most effective way to hold down the biting, but you have to find one that works. Just be glad, you aren’t the person who’s the strongest mosquito magnet, unless you are that person.