Mosquitoes are nasty, irritating insects whose presence can easily ruin an otherwise perfect time. The way they buzz and swarm all around, waiting to land on some warm body to bite, is enough to drive anyone insane.
The worst part about the pesky bloodsuckers are the diseases they carry, which they transmit straight into your body and bloodstream when they bite. Every year worldwide almost 700 million people end up contracting a mosquito-borne illness resulting in over a million deaths. That number keeps growing and the scary fact is what makes them the #1 killer of humans.
The current ongoing public health crisis surrounding the Zika Virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, is causing all sorts of health issues. It’s only the latest international health threat that’s related directly to mosquito bites and it’s in good company. Many diseases are spread mainly or exclusively by mosquitoes including malaria, dengue, encephalitis, West Nile virus, and more. While it’s best to avoid the flying terrors all together, that’s basically impossible because if they want to bite you they will, or die trying.
One way to lessen the amount of bites is knowing what attracts skeeters in the first place. Basically, it depends on how you smell and since mosquitoes have excellent scent receptors in their antennae, they can smell any human within 100 feet easily. Unfortunately, it also comes down to genetics and 85% of the reason why mosquitoes prefer some people over others is due to their genetic makeup. Here are some of the main factors that make someone a mosquito bite magnet:
1) Exercise and Lactic Acid Production- The sweatier and smellier a person in the more attractive they are to a mosquito. Individuals who produce more lactic acid, which is emitted from our bodies via sweat glands, will draw in more of the pests to their general vicinity. Also, the more perspiration and the older it is, the greater the buildup of lactic acid, meaning you're a tasty meal. Research has proven that fresh sweat isn’t as attractive to a mosquito as day-old sweat appears to be, so taking a shower after working hard or exercising can make a huge difference on how many bites you’ll end up getting.
2) Bacteria- Our skin is literally crawling with bacteria and it’s estimated that the average human has about one trillion or so bacteria on their body. The types of bacteria living on our skin can vary greatly from person to person and some varieties affect how much an individual gets bit by mosquitoes. For example, it has been found that if someone has Staphylococcus and Variovorax present on their skin, they’ll likely suffer more mosquito problems. The opposite is also true, other types of bacteria act to make our skin less attractive to mosquitoes. A few of those types of bacteria include Pseudomonas, Delftia, and Actinobacteria. You definitely want those crawling on your body!
3) Blood Type- The type of blood you have coursing through your veins factors greatly into the risk of whether or not you’ll end up suffering from more bites than others. Studies have found that people with Type O blood are bitten most often, followed by Type B, then Type A. In fact, Type O’s are so appealing to mosquitoes that they’re twice as likely to suffer bites than Type A. In addition, if you happen to be among the estimated 85% of people who emit a certain chemical that gives away your blood type through your skin then mosquitoes will bite you long before they bite those who lack that chemical. It’s as if the pesky insects like to know exactly what type of blood they’ll be sucking, eek!
4) Carbon Dioxide- Even just breathing is enough to attract mosquitoes because they are drawn to the CO2 you exhale. Individuals who produce more CO2 get bit more frequently, thus pregnant women and heavy-set people who tend to breathe heavier need to take extra precautions to keep from getting bit. Another factor in relation to carbon monoxide is that beer drinkers have been found to get bit more frequently because they too breathe more heavily when under the influence of a few beers.
While people commonly use bug zappers, horrible smelling chemical repellents, and mosquito nets to try and combat the pests, they’re mostly ineffective or plain gross. Fortunately, there’s an easy and highly effective way to keep your surroundings mosquito-free. This video shows how to make a trap to catch the suckers using old soda bottles. It takes just a few seconds and you can make a bunch of them for less than a couple of bucks.
Take a 2 liter soda bottle and carefully cut a third of the top part off it with a serrated knife. Place ¼ cup of brown sugar, 1 cup warm water, and ¼ teaspoon of yeast in the bottom two thirds portion of the cut soda bottle. Place the top of the soda bottle upside down into the bottom half of the bottle and make sure the cap is off and that it fits tight and snug all around the sides. Place the soda bottle trap outside near wherever you plan on sitting and let it do its magic. Mosquitoes will be attracted to the brown sugar and yeast mixture and won’t be able to resist the sweet, sticky aroma it puts off. When they fly down inside the bottle they become trapped and can’t escape, leaving you with a comfortable, relaxing, mosquito-free atmosphere to enjoy and kick back in. Check it out, the video is definitely worth a one minute view!