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Published on July 17th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor

Why Mosquitoes Like Some People More Than Others (And What You Can Do About It).

Have you noticed this summer seems to be particularly buggy? The mild winter we enjoyed last year has led to an abundance of insects this summer. That plus the outbreak of the Zika virus in countries to the south has the concerns about mosquito-borne diseases top of mind right now.

Especially for me. I am the mosquito magnet in my family. If they get into our tent while camping, my wife will wake up with maybe a bite or two, but I’ll be bumpy and itching from head to toe. Why is this? Why are some of us all-you-can eat buffets for mosquitoes while others are left alone like week-old leftovers?

Why mosquitoes are more attracted to certain people

Body size. I am larger than my wife, and therefore have more body mass. I’m simply a bigger target and therefore more vulnerable.

Blood type. People with type O blood have been found to be 83 per cent more attractive to mosquitoes. Those with type A blood are the least tasty for the bugs.

Drinking alcohol. There’s nothing like having a glass of wine on a patio in summer, or cracking open a can of beer by the campfire. However, alcohol raises your body temperature and leads to perspiration. Both attract the mosquito.

Being physically active. People who exercise regularly often have higher levels of lactic acid and increased body heat that elevates their susceptibility to mosquito bites.

Carbon dioxide. You can’t win. If you don’t exercise regularly and are easily out of breath, you’ll also attract more bites. Breathing heavily causes your body to expel more CO2.

Pregnancy. Pregnant women are particularly at risk for mosquito bites for a variety of reasons. They tend to exhale more carbon dioxide than others, their body temperature is elevated, and their skin emits more lactic acid that attracts the insects.

What you’re wearing. Mosquitoes are hungriest at dusk and dawn. Wearing dark clothing in these periods makes you stand out against the horizon so you’re easier for them to find. Also in the evenings, wearing shorts and short sleeves exposes more skin and makes you more likely to get bitten.

How to receive fewer mosquito bites

Mosquitoes are most likely to bite people who are pregnant, athletes, or who are enjoying alcoholic beverages. While we’re unlikely to give up drinks on the patio, change our exercise routine, or stop having babies just to avoid insect bites, there are some practical steps you can take.

You can’t change your blood type, but if you’re not type O, you can try hanging out with people who are. They can be the bait that lures the bugs away from you.

More practically, experts advise that you wear long sleeves and pants in the evenings to limit the amount of skin that is exposed to bugs.

Also get rid of any standing water in and around your yard. Puddles, ponds, bird baths, water pooled in a tire swing, these are all breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Wear insect repellant that contains DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. These are the most effective and longest lasting repellants. Other natural solutions such as soybean,
lemongrass, cedar, or citronella have been shown to have some effect, but last for much shorter periods of time, so reapply frequently.

You can also use insect-repelling candles, diffusers, or mosquito coils. These are most effective when there is little to no wind.

Fortunately, mosquitoes aren’t able to fly in windy conditions. So if it is too breezy for your citronella candles, there will likely be fewer mosquitoes anyway. Similarly, you can also try bringing a fan outside and leaving it blowing across your patio. The wind makes it difficult for the mosquitoes to fly and also keeps the air moving which makes it much harder for them to hone in on the C02, sweat, and blood types they’re attracted to.

Ready for the great outdoors? Check out some the best places to camp in Ontario.

By Peter Harris

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