Mosquito bites are not only annoying; they can also put your health at risk. Find out why mosquitoes bite, why these insects prefer some more than others, and how to prevent their bites.
Mosquitoes interrupt our sleep with their constant buzzing, they bite us leaving behind redness, burning and swelling and, in addition, they are capable of transmitting a large number of diseases.
The dengue, malaria, Zika virus, West Nile and chikungunya are just some of the conditions that can cause these insects infected, so it is imperative to prevent their bites. But why do mosquitoes bite? Discover the answer to this question in the article.
Why do the mosquitoes bite us?
To begin with, we must clarify that not all mosquitos bite. There are about 3,500 species and only three of them seek our blood: Anopheles, Culex and Aedes.
Likewise, this comes down to just female mosquitoes, which need protein and other chemicals from the blood to produce and lay their eggs. Therefore, it is their own and exclusive action.
In general, a female mosquito can lay between 30 to 300 eggs by just sucking blood once. To complete the other training process, you need to sip again.
Male mosquitoes do not bite because they feed on the nectar and juices produced by plants. Females could also live without sucking blood, but those three species we mentioned require it for their reproduction.
Why do their bites itch?
When they bite, female mosquitoes push their mouthparts under our skin and inject a little of their saliva to prevent the blood from clotting and flowing while they suck. For its part, the immune system responds to the chemicals contained in the insect’s saliva, which causes different reactions: redness, swelling and itching.
Although these are the most common, children, people with weak immune systems, and adults who have not experienced a previous sting tend to react with more severe symptoms. Among them we count fever and urticaria.
Do mosquitoes prefer some more than others?
As unfair as it may be, the answer is yes. There are studies that suggest that 20% of people are irresistible to mosquitoes. Similarly, entomologists have discovered other factors that can make you more attractive to these insects.
There are several factors that will make you a favorite prey for mosquitoes. The best known and supported by science are the following.
1. Color of clothing
Mosquitoes use their sense of sight to locate their prey. The studies suggest that tend to be more attracted to dark colors like black, green and red. In that sense, if you are wearing clothes with those shades, you will be the target of the most chopped.
2. Blood type
Female mosquitoes depend on the proteins in our blood to produce their eggs, so it is not surprising that they prefer some blood types more than others. An investigation showed that people with type O blood are twice attractive people with type A blood, while those with blood type B are in an intermediate zone.
3. Carbon dioxide we emit
Mosquitoes have the ability to smell the carbon dioxide that we exhale when we breathe. Therefore, the more we exhale, the more prone we are to their bites. In general, our gas production increases when we exercise or have a considerable body size.
Similarly, you should bear in mind that, as we exhale through the nose and mouth, the mosquitoes are more attracted to the head area. These explains that during the nights we can hear their incessant hums.
4. Chemicals and body temperature
Mosquitoes can also detect their prey by sniffing out lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia, and other compounds given off by sweat. They also have a strong preference for people with high body temperatures.
In that sense, being active makes you more prone to mosquito bites due to increased lactic acid and body temperature. Similarly, there are genetic factors that play a role in the amount of uric acid and other substances secreted.
5. Bacteria present on the skin
Scientific studies have shown that the type and number of bacteria present on the skin can make us more prone to mosquito bites. The most irresistible are those that have the highest amount of certain types of skin microbes.
In particular, this factor would explain why some of these insects are so attracted to the ankle and foot area. These regions are a mature source of bacteria.
According to studies, pregnant women are more attractive to mosquitoes than those who are not. This is because pregnant women exhale more carbon dioxide (approximately 21% more in volume) and their body temperature is higher.
7. Drink beer
An investigation from 2002 associated alcohol consumption with the fact that mosquitoes bite you more. The scientists determined that those who had consumed beer were more attractive to these insects than those who had not.
How to prevent mosquito bites?
While it is true that there are some things that you cannot stop doing to avoid mosquito bites, there are steps you can take to prevent discomfort. And, above all, the main thing will be to reduce the risk of diseases. Follow the tips below:
- Use an insect repellent.
- Wear long sleeves, pants, and socks, if possible.
- Choose light colored clothes.
- Avoid going out during dawn and dusk: these are the hours when mosquitoes are most active.
- Eliminate insect habitats, such as stagnant water sources.
- Keep mosquitoes out of the house.
Some more attractive than others
Of the 3,500 species of mosquitoes, only three bite and this is limited to females. Female mosquitoes bite to get the nutrients they need to produce and lay their eggs.
In addition, there are people who are more attractive to mosquitoes. These include pregnant women, beer drinkers, people with type O blood, those who enjoy exercising, and those who have certain types of bacteria on their skin. This does not imply changing those habits, but it does mean minimizing risk by taking the measures that we have already discussed.