Every summer, I’m reminded of how lucky I am. Mosquitoes don’t really bother me much at all. My friends and family, though, aren’t always as lucky. The fun of our camping trips, cookouts, and hikes are often marred a bit by the hoards of mosquitoes attacking the people I love.
So I set out to understand why mosquitoes bother some people more than others in the hopes that I can help end the madness for my pals. Before you go caking yourself in bug spray, consider these reasons that the bugs are bugging you.
1. You’re sweaty.
When you’re active outdoors, you sweat. Pretty common knowledge, right? What might not be that common is that lactic acid, a byproduct of physical activity, leaves your body through your pores. The lactic acid in your sweat attracts mosquitoes to you. Having a higher body temperature also attracts them.
2. They like your style.
A common misconception is that mosquitoes are drawn only to a person’s body heat or carbon dioxide. In truth, mosquitoes use their eyes to look for prey before using any of their other senses. Some colors draw them in more than others. Darker colors, like black, navy blue, dark green, and red make you easier to see.
3. You have an especially delicious blood type.
I was skeptical of this when I first read about it and decided to do further research. Apparently, just like you have your favorite food, mosquitoes have a favorite blood type. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, people with Type O blood may exude certain smells that mosquitoes find more attractive than people with different blood types. I didn’t realize mosquitoes could be picky eaters!
4. You’ve got a baby on board.
One of the ways mosquitoes are drawn to you is by the carbon dioxide you exhale. These annoying insects have nerves that help them detect your breath in the environment. When you’re pregnant, particularly after 28 weeks, you’re exhaling about 20% more carbon dioxide than people who aren’t pregnant according to a 2002 study published in The Lancet.
5. You’ve had one too many.
Two separate studies have confirmed that people who drink beer as opposed to water are more attractive to mosquitoes, but no one is clear on why. One study conducted in West Africa found that people who drank beer instead of water attracted more mosquitoes, and another study in Japan came to the same conclusion. How widespread this phenomenon is isn’t particularly clear.