Ever wondered why some people are mosquito magnets, while others appear to escape virtually unscathed every BBQ and beach trip? Find out why - plus get some tips to help you avoid getting bitten!
Summer is in full swing and, sadly, I am one of those unlucky beings who is completely irresistible to mozzies. In fact, I'm sure it's half the reason I'm invited to various outdoor events so I can operate as the group's decoy and mosquito repellant.
If you're anything like me, fear not. Understanding what lures these annoying little insects can be very useful to help you avoid them.
1. Careful what you wear
Mozzies first mode of search for victims is actually through their vision - and wearing dark colours or red makes you easier to spot. Plus, darker clothing can absorb heat better than lighter colours, thus making you more attractive too (refer to point 3). Time to pull out the whites! Similarly, motion also stands out to mosquitoes - so if you're moving around a lot and making large gestures, you may be more of a target.
2. Blood Type
Research has shown that mosquitoes are particularly drawn to people with Type O blood. In fact, you are twice as likely to get bitten as those with Type A, while Type B falls somewhere in the middle. Furthermore, 85 per cent of people produce a secretion that signals what blood type they are - and it seems our little insect friends are more drawn to these people, regardless of blood type.
3. Heat and sweat helps them choose their prey
Lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia and other compounds emitted in sweat are highly desired by mosquitoes. So that's why the little critters often seem to linger around if you've been exercising. Interestingly, it's actually only the female mozzies that bite - as they need the protein in blood to help their babies develop (aww.. almost makes the bites more tolerable).
4. Human breath
Carbon dioxide is thought to be one of the primary ways mosquitoes locate their targets. Mozzies have receptors on their antennae that detect the carbon dioxide released when we exhale from as far away as 50 metres, so the more you exhale the more attractive you become. Larger people do exhale more and as a result, are at a bigger risk of being bitten, generally speaking.
5. They love people who are pregnant and drink beer
Bingo. Guilty on both counts, your honour. Pregnant women tend to have higher resting metabolic rates - which is linked to the amount of carbon dioxide your body releases - thus making you more of a target. And a study by Japanese researchers found that drinking beer and can make you more of an object of blood-sucking affection - possibly due to the increased ethanol in sweat and skin temperature.
So, if only wearing white, standing still and never drinking beer all summer isn't an option, using a DEET repellant and wearing lightweight, protective clothing remain the most effective weapons. If you want to avoid chemical-based repellents, there is some evidence citronella candles will provide short-term protection too.
And if all else fails, just hang out with someone like me!