It's the debate that comes up at every summer BBQ, campfire or hike. Who do mosquitoes like more? You always have someone arguing that they never get bit, or that mosquitoes like their blood more than others. But is there a truth to those statements? Are mosquitoes attracted to certain people more than others?
To answer these important question, we went straight to the experts. We chatted with Kevin Wilson, CEO of Mosquito Joe; Missy Henriksen, Vice President of Public Affairs at the National Pest Management Association; and Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pittsburgh.
There are a wide variety of answers, but the general consensus was that mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide. It is the most proven factor of mosquito attraction and while some of our experts delve into the ideas and other commonly recognized factors, carbon dioxide emission is the strongest leader.
Dr. Amesh Adalja explained, "Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and, depending on what species of animals they normally prey on, will be most attracted to those exhaling the most carbon dioxide." An increased carbon dioxide exhalation can be found in many different types of people. For example, pregnant women often exhale more carbon dioxide, and people with bigger body habitus generally do too.
Exercise is another major player, and Kevin Wilson adds, "Active or fidgety people also produce more carbon dioxide and lactic acid so they're also on the hit list." Acid proves to be the second most popular reason for attraction. Wilson explained that while carbon dioxide is primary, other body odors such as sweat, lactic acid, uric acid and heat can make you more attractive.
Carbon dioxides and acids are proven to play factors, but there also some lesser proven studies that may cause attraction as well. Missy Henriksen spoke of the factors that researchers are still studying, "Some studies have found that 20 percent of people are highly attractive to mosquitoes and that perhaps genetic factors such as metabolism and blood type may have an impact." She also noted that, "Other studies have shown that people who have a strong foot odor or who have consumed beer, emit a chemical more attractive to mosquitoes."
There are still some questions to be answered, but these experts all agreed that it does not matter who mosquitoes are more attracted to. Whether it be one bite or ten, mosquitoes can be dangerous. They carry diseases such as West Nile Virus and Chikungunya. So, your biggest concern should be protection. Use one of our best bug sprays, or try a natural remedy. And if those aren't doing the trick, hire a professional, like Mosquito Joe. Wilson, the CEO of Mosquito Joe advises not to accept mosquitoes as a problem that you can't prevent:
"Stop trying to self-manage the problem with smelly candles and sprays and bring in a professional outdoor pest control expert to help. You wouldn't hesitate to call for help if you had a roach problem inside the house, so don't hesitate to call for a mosquito problem outside either. Set up a regular treatment program for your yard and start enjoying your summer without mosquitoes!"
Change the conversation from why you are more attracted to mosquitoes, to how to prevent the nasty critters. And enjoy your summer, bite-free.
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