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Myth vs. Fact: Mosquito Edition

August 25, 2016


mosquito biting a man in west palm beach fl

Before we get into debunking popular ideas, there are some basics about mosquitoes ‘preferences’ that you should know. Experts in the field, such as Joe Conlan, PhD, who works with the American Mosquito Control Association, have identified specific elements found on the skin’s surface or released by the human body that have been scientifically proven to attract mosquitoes.  Notably, mosquitoes are attracted to excess uric acid on the skin’s surface, to larger amounts of carbon dioxide exhaled, possibly while panting from exertion, and to lactic acid that is produced in sweat glands.  In addition, scientific studies demonstrate that mosquitoes are attracted to increased movement and increased heat.  For example, when you are working out, the panting and sweating from exertion will draw mosquitoes to you because of the extra carbon dioxide and lactic acid that your body is giving off.

 “Size Matters: Mosquitoes more attracted to larger people”

FACT

Experts say that, yes, size does in fact matter.  Scientific evidence suggests that mosquitoes prefer larger individuals to smaller ones, which includes general preferences to men over women and to adults over children.  This preference is due to the fact that larger bodies produce more heat, exhale more carbon dioxide, and have more body mass to bite.

“People who suffer from Diabetes are more attractive to mosquitoes” 

MYTH

This myth is based on the commonly held belief that mosquitoes are attracted to the sugar levels in blood, but this belief is false.  Theoretically it is thought that mosquitoes are drawn to the sugar emanations in breath, but there is no scientific research that supports that theory.  Mosquitoes bite humans to get the protein from their blood, but they are not interested in the sugar.  The fact of the matter is that there is no reason to believe that diabetes has anything to do with someone’s attractiveness to mosquitoes.

“Mosquitoes like to bite your ankles and feet more than anywhere else on your body”

FACT

Compared to the rest of the human body, ankles and feet naturally have more robust colonies of bacteria, which make them the body parts that are the most susceptible to mosquito bites.

“Pregnancy makes a woman more attractive to mosquitoes”

MYTH

It is true that pregnant women are more attractive to mosquitoes, but the idea presented here is based on the theory that pregnancy itself is the attracting factor.  Some studies have provided support, but the data has since been invalidated because the researchers used a selective and skewed sample that did not represent the general population.    Pregnant women give off more heat and carbon dioxide because carrying a baby requires exertion.  Anybody could become equally as attractive to mosquitoes by working out.  It has more to do with the exertion from the strain that being pregnant puts on your body rather than the actual pregnancy itself.

“People with fairer skin are more appealing to mosquitoes”

MYTH

People incorrectly believe that those with fairer skin are more enticing to mosquitoes because their reactions to the bites tend to be more evident and pronounced.  The human body produces a histamine reaction to the stress caused by the salivary component that mosquitoes inject, and fairer skin has a propensity towards stronger and more apparent responses to bites.  This theory is false because strong reactions are in no way related to someone’s appeal to mosquitoes.

“Mosquitoes are more drawn to those with a Blood Type O”

MYTH

This theory is based on a single study that presented results suggesting that mosquitoes may have a preference for people with a Blood Type O.  This study has since been refuted because of bad statistics.  Since it was the only study on the subject, the theory about the Blood Type O became a myth.

“Genetics play a factor in your attractiveness to mosquitoes”

FACT

It’s true!  Genetics play a large role in someone’s appeal to mosquitoes.  Some people’s genetics cause them to naturally emit more uric acid, among other substances, which is scientifically proven to attract mosquitoes.  In addition, some people’s genetics cause them to naturally have a particular type of skin bacteria that is known to entice mosquitoes. 

If you liked this post, be sure to check in next week for more debunking in another segment of “Myth vs. Fact: Mosquito Edition.”  If you have any questions about the ideas discussed in today’s post or if you are interested in our pest control services, please leave a comment below or call one of our Nozzle Nolen representatives at (800) 226-6536.




 

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