If I had to complain about the summer, I’d likely bring up sunburns, humidity and bug bites. Even living in a city doesn’t make anyone immune to the dreaded, itch-inducing mosquito, and if you’re planning a camping trip anytime soon, good luck. Sure, there are a million different bug sprays and citronella candles or the like all over the place, but they’re all good for about half the time you find yourself among bugs, if that.
You know how we tell people it’s good luck when birds poop on them or when it rains on their wedding day, and it’s more of a way to make them feel better than anything else? I’m pretty sure it’s the same thing when we tell people they must have sweeter blood when they get ravaged by mosquitoes.
Let it be known that it is true that only female mosquitoes bite, but they’re not just being rude -- they’re being moms! They need our human blood to harvest the proteins necessary to produce fertile eggs. Imagine if we could make healthy babies just by biting people we didn’t like? The possibilities.
The rumors are corroborated, though: It might not have anything to do with your blood being “sweeter,” but some people really are more attractive to these incessant insects. Part of it has to do with your blood type: There’s evidence that mosquitoes prefer type O over A or B. But it doesn’t mean they’re going to skip over you; you’re not a steak they can send back to the kitchen for being undercooked. More so than your blood type, it’s the amount of carbon dioxide your body releases as you use up energy (aka your metabolic rate) that really gets these guys going. Mosquitos use the CO2 emissions to identify targets with blood flow -- it’s how they differentiate you from inanimate objects or, like, plants. No blood, no business.
Unfortunately, that metabolic rate is determined by your genetics. As is about 85 percent of the other factors that these bloodsuckers look for in a perfect host.
Steroids or cholesterol on your skin’s surface, for example, attracts the bugs, and those of us that naturally secrete more chemical signals through our skin are basically beacons to mosquitoes. The lucky minority simply aren’t as easy to find.
And, yes, you are getting bitten more when you’ve been drinking. It’s not necessarily that beer makes you yummier or any of that nonsense, but that alcohol raises your metabolic rate. So does exercise, but beer > exercise, amirite?
What else makes you super hot to a mosquito? Dark clothing -- like lots of movement, it helps them find you, since they can pick you out easier against the daylight. I wouldn’t stand stock still in a white tee and expect to not be bitten, but flapping around in dark denim probably isn’t helping, either. Plus, the lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia and other stuff that’s produced from your sweat glands (the amounts of which, again, are usually dictated by your genetics) when you overexert is especially tantalizing.
Also, larger people typically radiate more carbon dioxide. So sorry, summer pregos -- you and your growing baby, with your combined increased CO2 emissions and naturally higher body temperature, are the perfect snack for a hungry mosquito.
Fall into any of these categories? Prepare the bug spray -- but switch it up often. Apparently the little brats can become immune.