I love summer. The days are long, the nights are magical (even if you don’t do anything), and most importantly, the weather is warm. But there is one thing that I hate about summer…BUGS. Specifically mosquitoes.
They eat me alive, and I’m often covered in bites for most of the summer. I have never understood why the little fuckers seem to be more attracted to me than literally anyone else in my house, or at the park, or wherever I happen to be getting bitten at that moment.
If you’re anything like me, and you’re nodding along as you try not to scratch, there are finally answers as to why some people are more susceptible to mosquito bites than others.
Not surprisingly, there isn’t just one factor that makes a person mosquito food, but rather, multiple factors. Some of them are things we can control, but some are, unfortunately, out of our control.
The first factor is your blood type. Mosquitoes are flying bloodsuckers so this makes sense. Interestingly, a study of people in a controlled setting showed that mosquitoes are most attracted to Type O blood. Those with Type O attracted significantly more of the little buggers than those with Type A. They say that Type O blood is a universal donor, so maybe that’s why mosquitoes are most attracted to it.
Another fun fact? Apparently, most people secrete a chemical that signals our blood type. So basically for those with the secretion, your body is throwing up a bat signal, telling the mosquitoes where to come and find your ass. And find your ass they do. Eighty-three percent of those with Type O blood who secrete the chemical became a helipad for landing mosquitoes. There is no way of knowing if you’re a carrier of this chemical, but if you’re constantly swatting away those little suckers, you can probably just assume that you are.
Another weird thing they’re attracted to? Carbon dioxide. Isn’t that totally weird? If you breathe too much CO2, then you’re literally inviting the bugs to come bite you. If you don’t breathe, then you die. So nothing we can really do about this one, folks.
Other bodily functions they’re attracted to? Lactic acid, uric acid, and body temperature. If you tend to always be hot, chances are you are also always getting bitten. And if you work out, you’re doubling your chances; you’re elevating your body temperature, and raising the amount of lactic acid produced. Our bodies are fucking betraying us left and right here.
I’m sure by now you’re dying to know about the factors you do have control over. Have no fear, they exist, and they are totally doable.
I know in summer, for some people, there is nothing quite as refreshing as a cold beer on a hot day. Unfortunately, your beer could be making you more tasty to the mosquitoes. A study was done with a small group of people and it showed that after drinking one 12 ounce (350 ml) beer, people were more susceptible to bites. It’s hard to say why, but if you’re gonna sip a cold one while at a backyard barbecue, you may want to stand by the citronella candle.
Another not so great thing? If you tend to wear darker colors, even in the summer, you’re going to get bitten. Talking to NBC News, Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida Vero Beach explained that mosquitoes are attracted to certain colors. Black, navy blue, and red are the biggest attractors. Apparently, mosquitoes are very visual creatures, especially in the late afternoon. So if you’re wearing those colors, be careful.
Here’s a fun fact: only female mosquitoes bite people. They are using the blood they collect not as food, but to get a protein they need to develop their eggs, said Joseph Conlon, a medical entomologist and technical advisor to the American Mosquito Control Association. It’s ironic that to increase their chances of getting pregnant, female mosquitoes will throw their fellow pregnant humans under the bus (oh yeah, if you’re pregnant in summer, you’re more likely to get bit because of the increased body temperature and more carbon dioxide release.)
So there you have it. Sadly, a lot of the reasons why mosquitoes tend to like some people better than others is really out of our control. We can’t change our bodies any more than the mosquitoes can change that they’re evil, flying, blood sucking pains in the ass. But maybe don’t drink a beer while you wear a black tee shirt. Now pass the bug spray!