Make yourself less attractive to mosquitos by understanding how they really find you—which has nothing to do with blood.
You’ve heard it from someone you know, or maybe even witnessed it first-hand. Some people just seem to be mosquito magnets. You can stand near them and hardly be harassed by the mosquitoes, and somebody next to you is being bitten by an army of them.
A mosquito does play favorites. She’ll use olfactory, thermal, and visual cues to seek you out. She’s got only one thing on her mind: a blood extraction. Here’s how a mosquito picks her prey, and how you can be less of a target.
The hunt begins with your scent
But before we even get to that, let’s establish a few facts about mosquitos:
- It’s only the female that hunts for blood
- When she’s not looking for blood, she feeds on flower nectar
- Mosquitos don’t eat your blood. They use the iron and protein found in your blood to make their eggs. (Yeah, it’s a lot like Alien but thankfully on a much smaller scale.)
One last fact about mosquitos is that they don’t “smell” blood. Like many insects, they are attracted to the scent of carbon dioxide—which is the gas we humans and other animals create when we exhale.
Mosquitos are capable of detecting the scent of carbon dioxide from up to 150 feet away. Each time we exhale, we leave behind a lingering plume of the gas. Mosquitos use this trail of plumes to sniff us out. They have special sensors around their mouths for this purpose.
Mosquitos are also attracted to the scent of lactic acid. Our bodies produce lactic acid when we convert carbohydrates into energy. It’s emitted through our skin when we exercise.
Do you sense a pattern here? If you want to be less of a target to mosquitos, keep in mind that you’ll be more attractive to them if you’ve just exercised. You’ll be emitting more lactic acid and carbon dioxide than those around you.
The hunt continues with sight
Once a mosquito has selected you because of your plume of carbon dioxide—and maybe the scent of lactic acid on your skin—they’ll use their vision to hone in on you. Researchers have found that while mosquitos definitely are attracted to carbon dioxide, they will move toward dark objects emitting it as opposed to light objects.
People have theorized this, and scientific studies seem to corroborate it. Mosquitos are attracted to people who wear dark clothing, so it’s wise to wear light colors if you plan to spend time outside.
The hunt ends with your heat
First, she detected your presence and began to follow you because of your carbon dioxide and lactic acid scent. Then she likely picked you out because of your dark clothing. Now it’s time to pinpoint your location.
For that, she’s going to use thermal cues. Our body heat is the last piece of information mosquitos need to close in for the…extraction.
It might seem silly to wear a light jacket on a warm night, but it’s one way you can mask your thermal cues to mosquitoes.
The hunt concludes
She’s found you and located an area of exposed skin. Now she’ll use a piece of her mouth shaped like a needle called the proboscis to pierce your skin and extract your blood.
Blood exposed to air coagulates quickly, so she’ll also inject some of her saliva through the proboscis to act as a thinning agent. This is where things get serious.
Humans contract diseases from mosquitos because these diseases are carried by them and passed on to us through the saliva they inject to thin and extract our blood. This is as deadly as it is gross. It’s estimated that nearly 725,000 people die annually because of a disease contracted through a mosquito bite.
Use the simple tips above to make yourself less of a mosquito magnet.
Of course, there is an easier way to dodge mosquitos: install a misting system. It will automatically release insecticide in timed releases to keep these pests out of your yard. To learn more about a mosquito control system and to get a free onsite consultation for your home or business, get in touch with Platinum Mosquito Protection by filling out our online contact form.