It’s the middle of the summer and that means heat, humidity, and yes MOSQUITOES! Have you ever felt that you were simply just a mosquito magnet. Waking up the next day with numerous itchy and red bites/bumps? They can be quite annoying, and in some cases deadly. Find out what may make you more attractive to these pesky insects below:
1. Carbon Dioxide
Apparently mosquitoes have a great sense of smell. They prey on certain scents, that they can detect from a far distance. According to instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health and adviser to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, Richard Pollack “mosquitoes are adept at figuring out where their target is by following their scent. If you were to exercise vigorously, you would produce more carbon dioxide for a brief period, and likely be more attractive to a mosquito.” Other more likely victims are obese individuals and pregnant women. They produce more carbon dioxide on average. There really much you can do to avoid this other than holding your breath, and we don’t want you to pass out!
Mosquitoes are out to get blood! The best place for them to do this is on an area of the body where they can have easy access. According Dr. Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, “before mosquitoes can take a bite they have to find an area of the body where the blood is close to the surface. Common areas include the forehead, wrists, elbows and neck.” If you are over heated you are bound to have blood closer to the surface of the skin. For instance someone who just got done working out, their blood is pumping heavy, and those mosquitoes are looking for you. “They use the heat to very quickly to determine where blood is closest to the surface,” said Day.
According to a small study done by the National Institute of Health, alcohol intake may make you more vulnerable to mosquito bites. The study looked at mosquitos landing on the skin of a test group of individuals who had ingested a beer versus those who hadn’t. I guess you may want to stick to water at your next family barbecue!
Some folks simply just get bitten more! According to a study done back in 2004 and published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, “mosquitoes landed on people with type O blood nearly twice as often as those with type A. Those with type B blood fell in the middle.” Dr Martin Donnelly, from the School of Tropical Medicine at the University of Liverpool says that “Eighty-five per cent of the reason why mosquitoes prefer you is genetic.” Your genetic pool determines both your blood type and the chemical makeup of your skin.
The Center for Disease Control has regulated that mosquito bite prevention comes from the following:
- Wear insect repellent: When used as directed, insect repellent is the BEST way to protect yourself from mosquito bites—even children and pregnant women should protect themselves. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer lasting protection.
- DEET: Products containing DEET include Cutter, OFF!, Skintastic.
- Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin): Products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan outside the United States).
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD: Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals.
- IR3535: Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart.
- Cover up: When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Keep mosquitoes outside: Use air conditioning or make sure that you repair and use window/door screens.
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