While summer is my favorite season, fall is a close second. The milder temperatures and lower humidity means I can spend more time outside doing the things I love: hiking, walking, and spending time at the lake. But time in nature is quickly ruined when I find myself covered in red, itchy bumps after spending just a few minutes outdoors. Because even though fall is almost here, the pesky mosquitoes are active until early November.

If you’re like me, you get frustrated with the number of mosquito bites that appear all over your body, causing the sensation of scratching the skin around the bite until you reach the bone. While the bites alone are annoying, it’s even more annoying when I walk in sporting a bunch of new bright red welts when my friends politely report that there aren’t any.

for what Not that we are particularly lucky. There are scientific reasons why mosquitoes identify certain people. Here’s exactly why mosquitoes bite and how to make yourself less of a target this season and beyond. (You may also know How to easily remove ticks without tweezers.)

Why do mosquitoes bite?

Contrary to what you might think, mosquitoes don’t bite people for food – they feed on plant nectar. Only female mosquitoes bite, and they do this Receiving proteins Your blood is needed to develop their eggs.

Why are some people more prone to biting?

There are several factors that affect why some people are more susceptible to mosquito bites than others.

Blood type

The common belief is that mosquitoes are attracted to some people Blood types, consider that mosquitoes bite humans for their blood. Blood type is determined by genetics, and each blood type is formed based on different sets of proteins called antigens on the surface of red blood cells. There are four main blood types: A, B, AB and O.

There is no definitive conclusion as to which blood type is more attractive to mosquitoes, but several studies have shown that people with type O are more attracted to mosquitoes. A 2019 study He looked at the feeding behavior of mosquitoes when presented with samples of different blood types, and found that mosquitoes from the O feeder type fed more than the other. A 2004 study He also found that mosquitoes landed on blood group O secretions (83.3%) significantly more than blood group A secretions (46.5%).

However, these studies are inconclusive, and much is still up in the air about mosquito preferences in relation to blood type.

Color of clothes

Mosquitoes are very visible predators looking for someone to bite. This means activity and dark clothes such as black, navy and red will stand out to mosquitoes. Research It has been shown that mosquitoes are more attracted to the color black, but little more research has been done to find out why.

carbon dioxide

Mosquitoes use sight and smell to find hosts to bite. One of the fastest ways mosquitoes can smell a person is through the carbon dioxide we exhale. According to a study published in the magazine Chemical sensitivitiesMosquitoes use an organ called a maxillary palp to detect carbon dioxide and can detect it from 164 feet away.

Because carbon dioxide is a big attractant, people who emit more — larger individuals and those who breathe heavily while working — are more attractive to mosquitoes.

Body odor and sweat

Mosquitoes are attracted to more substances and compounds than carbon dioxide. Mosquitoes can find the people they bite by smelling substances on human skin and sweat; Among them are lactic acid, uric acid and ammonia.

Researchers are learning why certain body odors are more attractive to mosquitoes, but they know that genetics, bacteria on the skin, and exercise all play a role. Genetics affects the amount of uric acid produced, and exercise increases the production of lactic acid.

Beer

as if A little researchAfter drinking a small amount of beer, mosquitoes were observed to land more frequently on the participants. But before you swear off the beer for good, know that the study only had 14 participants and found that mosquitoes are only attracted to people who drink beer.

The center of women's scrubs on a white background

The size and severity of a bite is related to how our immune system reacts to the saliva that a mosquito produces when it bites.

Suriyawat Suriya/IM/Getty Images

Why are some people more prone to mosquito bites than others?

Mosquito bites can range in size from small spots to large welts. Why is this happening?

Bites affect people differently. The size and severity of a bite is related to how our immune system reacts to the saliva that a mosquito produces when it bites. Mosquitoes inject some saliva when they bite and suck blood. This saliva contains certain anti-coagulants and proteins, which stimulate the immune system to respond to these foreign substances.

Our bodies respond by releasing histamine — a chemical released by white blood cells when your immune system fights allergens — which causes the sting to itch and swell.

Prevention and treatment of mosquito bites

The best way to control mosquito bites is to avoid them in the first place — but often that’s easier said than done.

Some common ways to prevent mosquito bites include:

  • Use protections and Bug spray (Repel, Off! Deep Woods and other brands that contain DEET)
  • Use natural preservatives (citronella Essential oil(neem oil, thyme essential oil)
  • Avoid going outside at dawn or dusk
  • Avoid dark colored clothes, especially black
  • Avoid standing water and try to avoid water near your home
  • Use a mosquito net when camping or sleeping outdoors
Many types of bug spray are lined up on the table

Repellents are very effective in preventing mosquito bites.

Amanda Capritto/CNET

Mosquito bites, while annoying, are usually not serious and resolve within a few days. In the meantime, there are several treatments available to relieve itching and inflammation:

  • If it is a new bite, clean it with alcohol
  • Take an oatmeal bath
  • Use an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl or Claritin
  • Apply mild corticosteroid creams
  • Use aloe vera to reduce inflammation
  • Try a cold compress

Try as much as possible not to itch the bite too much to prevent any skin reaction or infection, even if it is severe.

For more, read about it Five smart ways to get rid of mosquitoes this winter, Mosquito forecasting tool It started with Google and Off, and how you can Make your own DIY traps For mosquitoes, snails and other flying pests.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about health conditions or health goals.

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