It’s a summertime conundrum — mosquitoes are out in full-force, and in a crowd of people, you seem to be their only target. As the mosquito magnet of the group, you’ve probably heard the sayings, “Your blood must be sweeter” or “They must like you the most.”
While that can be frustrating to hear as you itch away, it is true that some people do attract mosquitoes more than others. Researchers have found that 20% of people are high attractors for mosquitoes (via NBC News). This largely depends on the sight and smell factors. Mosquitoes are attracted to people dressed in dark colors like black, navy blue, or red.
Your smell also plays a role. Female mosquitoes track down their targets by smell and body odor, typically going for those with higher levels of carbon dioxide. Higher metabolic rates produce more carbon dioxide, along with pregnant women and larger people.
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How you can avoid being the mosquito magnet
The specific smells from your skin even correlate with certain types of mosquitoes. The yellow fever mosquito and Asian tiger mosquito are attracted to lactic acid on your skin, while African malaria mosquitoes like a blend of fatty acids (via The Healthy). It may even be out of your control, as your skin chemicals can be determined by genetics, your specific health and diet, skin pH, and the skin microorganisms.
Keep the beverage menu in mind for your next outdoor gathering — your favorite beer could send the mosquitoes your way. The exact reasoning is not clear, but it could be your body temperature rising after an alcoholic drink, or that you are breathing more heavily (via NBC News).
Whatever the reason may be, it may be wise to invest in some mosquito repellant if you’re one of those people mosquitoes are drawn to. Experts tell The Healthy that you should stick to sprays with DEET, lemon-eucalyptus oil with citriodiol, or picaridin. Citronella can also be effective, but only for short amounts of time.