Ever notice how mosquitoes seem to feast on some of us while completely disregarding others?
Scientists have discovered that the mosquito’s mouth, isn’t just one tiny spear. It’s a sophisticated system of thin needles, which pierces the skin, finds blood vessels and makes it easy for mosquitoes to suck blood out of them.
Two of these needles have tiny teeth. The mosquito uses them to saw through the skin. They’re so sharp you can barely feel the mosquito biting you.
Another set of needles hold tissues apart while the mosquito works.Then a sharp-tipped needle probes under the skin, piercing a vessel and sucking blood from it.
The sixth needle drools saliva into us, and delivers chemicals that keep our blood flowing. Mosquito saliva also makes our blood vessels dilate, blocks our immune response and lubricates the proboscis. It causes us to develop itchy welts, and serves as a conduit for viruses and parasites.
Know thy enemy, in an attempt to keep their bite at bay.
These are all things that can have a direct effect on how often you get bitten.
1. What you are wearing
Mosquitoes actually use their eyes to spot victims. Mosquitoes are very visual, and their first mode of search for humans is through vision. Wearing dark colors (navy, black) and red makes you much easier to spot.
2. Blood connoisseurs
It’s all about the blood for mosquitoes. Adult mosquitoes survive on nectar for nourishment, but females rely on the protein in our blood for the production of their eggs. Some blood types seem to be more sought-after than others. Research has found, in fact, that people with Type O blood are found to be twice as attractive to mosquitoes than those with Type A blood; Type B people were somewhere in the middle. Around 85 percent of people produce a secretion that signals what blood type they are; mosquitoes are drawn to those 85 percent more than the non-secretors, regardless of blood type.
Mosquitoes can sense carbon dioxide up to 160 feet away; so the more one exhales, the more attractive they become. Larger people tend to exhale more and maybe target more than smaller people for this reason. Since human beings exhale carbon dioxide through the nose and mouth, mosquitoes are attracted to our heads.
Heat and sweat
Mosquitoes apparently have a nose for other scents besides carbon dioxide; they can sniff down victims through the lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia and other compounds emitted in sweat. They also like people who run warmer. The Smithsonian points out, genetic factors “influence the amount of uric acid and other substances naturally emitted by each person, making some people more easily found by mosquitoes than others.”
Some research has shown that the types and amount of bacteria on one’s skin can play a role in bringing on the mosquitoes as well. Our skin is naturally teeming with microscopic life, and the whole shebang creates a distinct fragrance. In one study, a group of men was divided into those who were highly attractive to mosquitoes and those who were not. The delicious ones had more of certain microbes on their skin than the unattractive ones. The bacteria factor could also explain why some mosquitoes are drawn to ankles and feet, an especially lively source of bacteria.
Women with a bun baking are probably those least wanting to attract mosquitoes, however, some species are more attracted to pregnant women than women who are not. One study in Africa found that pregnant women are twice as attractive to malaria-carrying mosquitoes as non-pregnant women!! Eep! Researchers believe it is due to an increase in carbon dioxide – they found that women in late pregnancy exhaled 21 percent greater volume of breath than non-pregnant women. They also discovered that the abdomens of pregnant women were 1.26°F hotter, adding to the mosquitoes-like-hot-bodies component.
Brew brings em
Who knew mosquitoes were attracted to beer? In one study researchers found that significantly more mosquitoes landed on study participants after drinking a 12-ounce beer than before. The scientists figured that it was due to increased ethanol content in sweat and skin temperature from consuming the brew, but they were unable to find the exact correlation, just that it happened.
Do mosquitoes love you? Have you found good ways to keep them away?