Why do humans attract mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are attracted to certain chemicals that human bodies exude. Each time a person breathes, thousands of chemicals are released from his pores and mouth (e.g. lactic acid, uric acid, and fatty acids). These chemicals mix with CO2 in the air to form a “carbon dioxide signature” unique to each person. This “carbon dioxide signature” is what mosquitoes sense and are attracted to.
One in 10 people are “extra tasty” (highly attractive) to mosquitoes because the chemicals they secrete smell better to mosquitoes than the chemicals given off by others. Recent studies suggest that genetic predisposition accounts for 85% of this effect. People with naturally high concentrations of cholesterol byproducts on their skin’s surface attract the most mosquitoes. Surprisingly, diet and blood-cholesterol has less to do with the cholesterol level on the skin than genetically determined metabolic rates. People who are more efficient at processing cholesterol have higher levels of cholesterol byproducts on their skin to attract mosquitoes.
Larger people tend to give off larger carbon dioxide signatures (although not necessarily stronger), which is why mosquitoes typically prefer to bite adults instead of small children. Pregnant women also produce a greater-than-average amount of exhaled carbon dioxide, and they are at greater risk for mosquito bites as well.
Even though some human scents attract mosquitoes more than others, any type of human carbon dioxide signature will attract a mosquito. Mosquitoes can smell a human scent from up to 50 meters away, and they are drawn to the smell, movement and heat of our bodies.
Oftentimes, it isn’t the smells of a person, but instead, the location that he happens to live in, that attracts mosquitoes. Stagnant waters (e.g., neighborhood lakes, ponds, and pools) are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and the worst mosquito populations exist along coastal areas. In contrast, mosquitoes hate the cold. Generally speaking, mosquitoes are not active at temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you live in the mountains or in more extreme latitudes, your chances of being bitten by a mosquito will decrease substantially. Be warned though, because of the harsher weather conditions, mosquitoes in colder climates tend to grow larger (baseball size)!
Now that you know why humans (or just the locations they live in) attract mosquitoes, consider checking out an article on how to repel mosquitoes. Mosquito bites are more than just an annoyance; mosquitoes can carry and transmit dangerous (and potentially lethal) diseases like malaria and the West Nile virus. Better to be safe than sorry!
Read also: what’s good for mosquito bites