How to Avoid Mosquito Bites

One of nature's most despised creatures, the mosquito is not only annoying, it can be deadly. There are over 3,000 species across the world, with approximately 100 of them making the North Eastern United States their home from early summer to late fall. Although most mosquitoes will only leave you with an itchy bump on your skin( a result of an allergic reaction to the mosquito's saliva), a few species are vectors which spread diseases such as West Nile virus, yellow fever, Dengue fever, malaria, and encephalitis.

Locally, efforts to control the population of this pest have been made recently by the Lancaster County West Nile Program. You can also play a part in reducing their population by following the helpful tips that are included in the Fox43 article. My article will focus on the person rather than the environment and will tell you whether you are more or less susceptible to mosquito bites.

Photo Credits - CDC Public Health Image Library

Photo Credits - CDC Public Health Image Library

GENETICS

Genetics account for 85% of your susceptibility to mosquito bites. The following traits will increase your chances of getting bitten:

  • Blood Type - According to a 2004 study, people with type O blood are 83% more likely
    to get bitten than people with type A, B, or even AB.
  • Your Size - Mosquitoes are typically attracted to larger humans who produce larger amounts of carbon dioxide and body heat. Pregnant Women can also be put into this group as they emit a larger amount of carbon dioxide than an average person.
  • Your Body's Chemical Breakdown - Mosquitoes are attracted to the byproducts of cholesterol breakdown which remain on the skin. People with a high level of cholesterol and those who process cholesterol at higher rates are more susceptible to mosquito bites. Excess production of uric acid can also produces a scent mosquitoes are attracted to.

BEHAVIOR

Although you can do little to change your genetics, you can decrease your chances of getting bitten by following these tips at your next outdoor gathering:

Photo Credit - www.Cooks.ndtv.com

Photo Credit - www.Cooks.ndtv.com

Avoid Stinky Socks! Photo Credit - www.j-walkblog.com

Avoid Stinky Socks! Photo Credit - www.j-walkblog.com

  • Skip the Booze - In a 2011 French Study, researchers discovered that three cans of beer will lead to 30% more bug bites.
  • Take a Shower - The stinkier you are, the easier a mosquito will detect you.
  • Don't Move too Much - Movement greatly contributes to a mosquito picking you for dinner. The more you move, the more carbon dioxide you will produce, the easier you are to spot, and the more you will sweat. Sweating produces lactic acid which mosquitoes are drawn to. In addition, movement will generate more body heat, another mosquito magnet.
  • Dress in Light Colors - Research shows darker shades, especially blue, draw mosquitoes more than lighter tones.
  • Don't Wear Perfume or Cologne - Strong floral scents attract mosquitoes as much as body odor. Avoid perfume showers for your sake and everyone else's. 
  • Don't use Alpha Hydroxy Skin Products - Many alpha hydroxy skin products contain lactic acid which attract mosquitoes.
  • Change Your Socks - Another behavior which will benefit you and your company is wearing a fresh pair of socks. Mosquitoes love stinky feet says entomologist Daniel L.Kline.
  • Skip the Limburger Cheese - Eating cheese that emits a strong odor will increase your chances of being smelled by the mosquito.
  • Use Insect Repellents that contain DEET (N, N - diethyl-meta-toluamide) 
Photo Credit - www.kfgo.com

Photo Credit - www.kfgo.com

 

The only benefit mosquitoes provide is that they are a food source for thousands of animals. If you don't want to be their food source, keep in mind those tips next time you attend an outdoor event and you will give yourself a chance to come home without itchy welts on your skin. Remember, only mosquitoes like a stinky person! 

-Shem Ruszczyk