It has happened to all of us at one time or another. You’re outside, trying to enjoy a warm, summer day, and suddenly you notice something itchy on your arm.
Regardless of who you are, mosquitoes have probably feasted on you at one point or another. The problem of mosquitos is an old one, but the reason behind it is one that has always been shrouded in mystery.
Why is it that some people seem to be devoured by the tiny bloodsuckers, while others are completely ignored?
Mosquitos Do Have Preferences
As you may imagine, scientists have been working on this problem for a while. It’s the million dollar summertime question: is there something about you that makes you more delicious to a mosquito than your neighbor?
While there is no 100% definite answer, scientists are certain that at least a part of it relates to genetics. Namely, how your body handles certain chemicals, and how your skin responds to them.
High Levels of Steroids or Cholesterol on Skin
One of the bigger attracting factors for mosquitos is the level of cholesterol on your skin. While some people might instantly think this means that the heavier you are, or the more you eat may make you a target, this is simply not the case.
It really has to do with how your body breaks down cholesterol, and how much of a residue is left on your skin afterwards. Uric acid content, cholesterol, and even the content of natural steroids produced by your skin can all be contributing factors.
These chemicals may be ignored by us, but they give off a certain chemical smell that mosquitos go nuts for. In fact, the scent of these chemicals is so potent to mosquitos that it has been proven they can react and be attracted at up to 50 meters.
High Quantities of Carbon Dioxide
Another attractive feature to mosquitos is the level of carbon dioxide that you put out. Mosquitos have been shown to be attracted to heat, movement, and CO2.
So, if you’re trudging through the park, sweating up a storm and breathing heavily, you are going to be a prime candidate for mosquito attention. This is why adults tend to have a greater problem with mosquitos than children.
Also, if you’re pregnant, you may want to reconsider going out on a muggy day. Not only can mosquitos detect the elevated levels of carbon dioxide in your breath, but they can smell the lactic acid on your skin.
Excess Amounts of Acid
Your body puts out all sorts of acids. While we don’t really tend to notice this, other creatures such as mosquitos use those as markers to peg good candidates for a meal.
The more acid you’re putting out, the higher the chance that your blood contains what mosquitos are after. After all, if you can smell your meal, you probably have a good idea of what’s in it.
Study Finds Answers
Plenty of studies have been done to see if there is something about how we look that attracts or repels mosquitos. After all, this can be said of bees (they tend to react strongly to the colors red and black). In tests with identical twins, it was found that increased activity had everything to do with smell. The more chemicals you put out, the tastier you seem to be.
As science continues to study the endless problem of mosquito bites, one fact from the available research tends to stand out. The next time you’re outside, instead of exerting yourself, try to take it easy. Remember the old advice: never let them see, or in this case, smell you sweat.