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Why humans are so 'tasty’ to mosquitoes

Sometime back in April, we posted a poll on our Facebook page, asking our followers about the types of colours that attracted mosquitoes. Approximately 22% of our respondents said that mosquitos had a preference for light-colours. Now that June has arrived (nope we didn’t forget about you, we promise), it’s probably high time that we shared with you the answer.

To start off, almost all of us can say that mosquitoes are ranked as one of the most hated insects on this planet. They frequently buzz around your ear, their bites itch, the repellent stinks and even worse, some of these insects carry around with them lethal diseases like malaria — which according to World Health Organisation, is responsible for nearly 30,000 deaths per year.

In fact, we all struggled in dealing with mosquitoes, and here are some essential things to know about these deadly pests

However, contrary to popular belief, mosquitoes don’t ‘bite’ you for food, since they mostly feed on plant nectar. In fact, female mosquitoes are the ones that drink your blood for reproduction purposes. This is attributed to the fact that they require a high amount of protein to produce and develop their eggs. Where else better for these pesky insects to get that protein, from none other than human blood?

Scientists are still trying to unpack everything about mosquitoes, yet at times we inadvertently make ourselves become highly attractive for mosquitoes to bite. Here are some factors they’ve uncovered that make you the perfect target to mosquitoes:

 

Wearing dark clothing

Mosquitoes are said to be highly visual creatures and tend to be attracted to people wearing dark coloured clothing, but not because they have impeccable taste in fashion and can appreciate classy dark colours (eg: red, dark blue and black). Rather, according to medical entomologist James Day, at the University of Florida, dark colours stand out more to mosquitoes, helping them to identify their next victims.

Hence donning a light-coloured outfit may help reduce those bites.

Carbon dioxide

Mosquitoes can detect the trail of carbon dioxide we breathe out from approximately 30 metres away. A high concentration of carbon dioxide may indicate the presence of a victim and so the more carbon dioxide one emits, the more attractive of a target they become.

Larger people give out more carbon dioxide than smaller people, which is why mosquitoes tend to bite adults more than children. The same applies for pregnant women who are twice as muchly likely to get bitten, since pregnant women exhale 21% more carbon dioxide.

Also, to add on, since we release carbon dioxide through our nose and mouth, mosquitoes tend to hover around our head, which probably explains that irritating buzzing around the ears at night.

Drinking beer

Who knew that drinking beer could make you the target of every mosquito’s affection? A study conducted by researchers from Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University in 2002 found that just drinking 350ml of beer could make the individual more attractive to mosquitoes. Unbelievable it may seem, there is a science behind this phenomenon.

According to Rentokil Singapore’s medical entomologist Dr Chan Hiang Hao, it was possible that alcohol increases one’s body temperature, causing them to sweat more, thereby attracting mosquitoes. Moreover, the carbon dioxide that bubbles out from the bottle or can once opened, could be an additional draw.

Sweat

Aside from carbon dioxide, lactic acid, uric acid and ammonia are also key components in your sweat that makes you irresistible to mosquitoes. When you exercise, it increases the amount of uric acid and other compounds found in your sweat. This sweat, paired together with that additional amount of carbon dioxide released when you exercise and increased body temperature, makes you the ideal target for mosquitoes.

Skin bacteria

Teeming with microscopic life, each person has approximately a trillion or so microbes that live in his or her skin, pores and hair follicles. Depending on their environment and lifestyle, individuals can have different combinations of microbes and these play a key role in influencing our distinct body odours. Only certain groups of microbes appeal to these highly selective mosquitoes and having large amounts of a few types of these bacteria tends to entice mosquitoes more. The smaller the variation of bacteria, the less inviting one smells to mosquitoes.

This probably explains why we tend to go into a scratching frenzy around the ankles and feet, which is an especially rich source of bacteria with less bacterial diversity. (Note to self: wear socks to bed.)

Minimise mosquito breeding and infestation in your home

But obviously you’re not going to spend the rest of your days wearing a white suit and stop breathing altogether. While some of these factors mentioned earlier are far beyond your control, here are some tips for you to minimise mosquito breeding in your homes, protecting you and your loved ones.

Call (65) 6347 8138 to speak with a mosquito control expert today.

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