Good Question: What makes you attractive to mosquitoes?

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Ever wonder why mosquitoes find some people more tasty than others?

I used to think it was all in people’s heads — if you get bitten once, suddenly all the mosquitoes are after you. But, apparently, even creatures that suck have preferences.

Note: Keep in mind that preferences can vary from species to species, and using insect repellent, covering up or just not going where mosquitoes hang out are your best protection.

Mosquitoes’ favorite things

Carbon dioxide

Watch out, mouth breathers.

Ever wonder why an adult will typically get more mosquito visitors than a child? Or why larger people seem to wear a sign that says “BITE ME”? Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide. (Incidentally, this is why mosquitoes love your head.) The bigger you are, the more you exhale, typically.

Pregnancy

Pregnant women tend to attract twice as many mosquito bites as other people. This is probably a combination of the fact that they exhale more carbon dioxide and have a slightly higher body temperature than others.

Sweat

My dad often complains, “I’m like chocolate to mosquitoes!” I’ll take the analogy a little further.

Imagine you’re a giant, walking strawberry, and you look pretty tasty to everyone you meet. That’s trouble, right?

Now imagine you’re a giant, walking CHOCOLATE-DIPPED strawberry. You are no longer in trouble. You are extinct.

Mosquitoes love a perspiring human. (Sorry, Richard Simmons.)

Sweat isn’t just water — body chemicals like lactic acid, uric acid and ammonia are also in the mix. Chocolate!

If you’ve been exercising, are a naturally sweaty person, or simply have more of the chemicals mosquitoes like in your sweat, your chances of getting bitten have gone up.

Booze

Apparently, mosquitoes share humans’ love of alcohol. This may explain why they veer into your windshield. (Not really.)

One study showed the number of our six-legged foes “landing on volunteers significantly increased after beer ingestion compared with before ingestion, showing clearly that drinking alcohol stimulates mosquito attraction.”

Yes, you could get a DUI and West Nile on the same night.

Clothes

Mosquitoes use their eyes in addition to their, um, olfactory organs. And they approve of dark clothing.

Since mosquitoes keep close to the ground, they tend to track their victims by comparing their silhouettes to the horizon. Light colors tend not to stand out as much as darker ones. So if anyone gives you a bad time for those sparkling pink pants and bright tie-dye shirt, tell them you’re wearing that groovy outfit for protection.

Blood type

Not everyone agrees on whether blood type can make you more appealing to mosquitoes. But you should know. Especially if you’re Type O, which apparently is the supreme pizza of the mosquito world.

Type B is a ham sandwich. Type A is pickle ice cream.

Why this stuff is important

The world’s deadliest animal isn’t the lion or tiger or bear — it’s the humble mosquito.

Mosquitoes don’t kill directly, of course, but they do have little friends. Malaria causes more than one million deaths a year worldwide. (Fortunately, that number is going down.) Top that with zika, West Nile, dengue and chikungunya, as well as all the non-fatal suffering mosquito-borne diseases can cause, and you have a pretty serious problem.

Do you have a Good Question about anything? Send it to Robert! Email him at questions@eastidahonews.com, or visit him on Twitter @notthegeneral or Facebook.

Resources used and further reading

Avoid mosquito bites (CDC)

Why do mosquitoes bite some people more than others? (Smithsonian)

You asked: Why do mosquitoes always bite me? (TIME)

Are you a mosquito magnet? (WebMD)

Do mosquitoes get drunk after biting intoxicated people? (Mental Floss)

7 reasons mosquitoes bite some people more than others (TreeHugger)

Alcohol ingestion stimulates mosquito attraction (study)

6 common myths about mosquitoes (Bottom Line)

Who is the biggest killer on the planet? (Hardy Diagnostics)

Mosquito-borne diseases (American Mosquito Control Association)

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