True or False: Are Mosquitoes Attracted to Some People More than Others?

STORY BY Jessica Elizabeth Pawlarczyk

Published: June 18, 2013

True!

This one wives’ tale is actually supported by the scientific community… But don’t be fooled completely: the “garlic will ward off mosquitoes” myth is incredibly false, and so is the belief that mosquitoes prefer people with “sweet blood.”

So what is it about certain people that make them so much tastier than others?

Well, scientists don’t know the answer— all they know is that some people are definitely more likely to be bitten by a mosquito than others. In fact, one in five people are “high attractor types” according to this NBC News article.

Yikes.

If you believe you’re the unlucky element in this statistic, read on to learn about the physiological reasons why you might be a ‘skeet magnet:

You have a fast metabolism

People who metabolize their food quickly produce more carbon dioxide than those who don’t. Unfortunately, carbon dioxide is believed to be the primary attractant for these pesky insects. Also, mosquitoes are attracted to the byproducts of metabolization that forms on the skin.

You’re six feet tall or are pregnant

People who are larger, as well as women who are pregnant, have higher metabolic rates that lead to a higher production of carbon dioxide. As stated above, carbon dioxide is a primary attractant. Body temperature may also determine how tasty a certain person is, where as one’s body heat increases, the higher his or her attractiveness is to mosquitoes. Pregnant women are especially known to have extra body heat.

You just exercised

After working out, lactic acid usually accumulates in your muscles— and lactic acid is incredibly appealing to ‘skeets! If you’ve really had a tough workout session, you may also be breathing heavier and quicker, which means that you’re emitting more carbon dioxide than normal.

You smell a certain way

Everyone releases varying amounts of acetone and estradiol while breathing, which affects an individual’s perceived tastiness. Different people have different bacteria and chemicals on their skin as well, which may act as a natural insect repellant.

Unfortunately, no one can change his or her physiological nature, meaning “once a mosquito magnet, always a mosquito magnet. “

Sorry to break the news.

On the bright side however, you can make yourself less of a target by dressing in light colors and of course, applying an EPA-approved mosquito repellant.

 

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