It goes without question that mosquitoes are one of the most annoying insects that exist on the planet. In addition to them being awfully annoying, they spread serious diseases like west nile virus, malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus! Everyone knows that mosquitoes bite humans, but would you believe that they have a preference for certain blood types?
Research has shown that mosquitoes do not bite all humans equally. As it happens, they have a preference for certain blood types over others. This is supported by an often-cited study that was published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, which found that mosquitoes are more attracted to people with Type O blood than any other blood type. Conversely, people with Type A blood seem to be the “chosen ones”, as they are the least attractive to mosquitoes.
The reasons behind this attraction are not entirely clear, but scientists have a few theories. One theory is that people with Type O blood have higher concentrations of certain chemicals in their skin, such as lactic acid and ammonia, which attract mosquitoes. Another theory is that people with Type A blood have a type of special bacteria on their skin that repels mosquitoes. These theories are still being explored, but it is clear that blood type plays some type of role in the likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes.
Due to mosquitoes’ pervasiveness, several new studies have been published on mosquito attraction and science in recent years. One such study found that mosquitoes are attracted to a chemical called 1-octen-3-ol, which is only produced by people with types O-positive or O-negative blood. This chemical is also found in sweat, and as a result is thought to be one of the reasons why mosquitoes are more attracted to people who are sweating. All the more reason to be sure you are using sweat-proof mosquito repellent.
Another one of those studies found that people with type O blood have higher levels of a certain hormone called “secretor status”. This hormone is also found in saliva and other bodily fluids, and it is thought to make people more attractive and noticeable to mosquitoes.
As with so many scientific studies, the evidence is promising but not conclusive. It is not fully understood why mosquitoes are more attracted to people with type O blood, but there is still ample scientific evidence to support the claim.
If you have type O blood, you may want to take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites, such as wearing long bug-free sleeves and pants, using insect repellent, and avoiding outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours (dusk).
Factors Influencing Mosquito Biting Behavior
Mosquitoes are attracted to humans due to a variety of factors. In this section, we will discuss some seasonal and chemical signals that influence mosquito biting behavior.
As you might expect, the time of year plays a huge role in how likely mosquito attacks are! Mosquitoes are more active during the warmer months and tend to bite far more frequently during this time. They are also more active during dawn and dusk, which are the times when they are most likely to bite humans.
As we have learned more facts about mosquitoes, one that is coming up again and again is that mosquitoes are really good at detecting different chemicals being emitted from the human body. These signals include carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and ammonia. Individuals who are active outdoors produce more of these chemicals, and as a result are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes.
Prevention and Protection Strategies
One of the most effective ways to prevent mosquito bites is to avoid being outdoors during peak mosquito activity hours, which again are usually at dawn and dusk. Mosquitoes are also attracted to dark colors, so wearing light-colored clothing can also help to deter them. Additionally, mosquitoes are attracted to sweat and body odor, so showering frequently and using deodorant can help to reduce the chances of being bitten.
Repellents and Protective Measures
The most popular and well-known way to protect against mosquito bites is to use insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. These ingredients have been proven by several studies over several years to be effective at repelling mosquitoes. Remember that it is important to follow the instructions on the product label, and to reapply the repellent as directed!
We have written extensively on mosquito repellents, so I’d refer you to our pieces on that topic, on organic or green mosquito repellents, and keeping mosquitoes away from your pets as well. Be sure to understand how often to reapply — typically, the higher the concentration of DEET, the longer it can go before a re-application is needed.
There is also more interest than there used to be for other mosquito-repelling techniques, such as repellent bracelets.
Still the best way to keep mosquitoes away is to modify the habitat so it doesn’t attract them. Keeping mosquitoes out of your yard is yard work and can take years of gradually making it less mosquito-friendly, but you will probably enjoy the results if you put the effort in.
Alternate Repellent Measures
Mosquito nets can also provide protection while sleeping, especially in areas where mosquitoes are prevalent. Most popularly used while camping, it is extremely important to make sure that the net is properly secured and does not have any holes or tears. Additionally, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants can provide an extra layer of protection against mosquito bites.
Overall, the best way to prevent mosquito bites is to use a combination of avoidance techniques and protective measures. By taking these steps, individuals can reduce their risk of contracting mosquito-borne illnesses and enjoy the outdoors more comfortably.