Scientists Have Finally Discovered The Real Reason Mosquitos Bite Humans

Dorothy Duckworth

Mosquitoes are the worst – as you’ll know if you’ve ever been bitten by one. And if you always seem like their preferred target, you may be right. After years of studying these little pests and their annoying behavior, scientists have finally found why mosquitoes go for one person over another.

Too Many Mosquitos

There are 3,500 species of mosquitoes on Earth – which, let’s face it, is 3,500 too many. And there’s a lot in the U.S. alone. Apparently, there are 176 unique varieties, according to the American Mosquito Control Association. You may feel like every one of those 176 has been after you at some point!

Finding Their Motivation

But because mosquitos cause so much trouble for humans, scientists have taken a big interest in them. They’ve tried to find what motivates these bloodsucking creatures to attack certain people. And it turns out that mosquitos definitely have a preference when it comes to their victims.

They Know

One of the factors influencing mosquito bites is the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. These levels are influenced by how many people are in the area, as we breathe out CO2 – and mosquitos can sense that. But there are also personal qualities they respond to.

Wear Light Clothing

ppetite, for example. Generally, the insects are attracted to dark colors. So, goths, please be careful! If you have a penchant for navy or black, try some lighter or brighter hues when you know you’re going to be in a place where mosquitos hover.

You Smell Tasty

Human body odor may also attract mosquitos. Yup, our sweat contains ammonia, lactic acid and other substances that create a unique smell. The yellow fever mosquito, in particular, relies on scent when choosing its victim.

B.O. Protection

Researchers noted, however, that not all body odors are created equal. The microbes a person exudes in their sweat could even naturally repel mosquitos. Some people have all the luck! But how did the experts prove it?

Studying The Twins

Well, scientists tested this theory by studying identical twins. When mosquitos smelled the odors the twins gave out, they either liked or disliked the smell of both. This shows that there may be a genetic component to the smell preference, too.

Avoid Beer

There’s also evidence that mosquitos prefer beer drinkers over teetotalers, according to a 2002 study from the American Mosquito Control Association. Mosquitos ruin everything, don’t they? But if you don’t drink, don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet. You see, the insects have other targets, too.

Pregnant Targets

Another group mosquitos love is pregnant people. When a baby is growing inside of you, that increases both your body heat levels and carbon dioxide output. And when a mosquito senses that CO2, they’ll head your way. But here’s another fact that may shock you.
Apparently, mosquitos remember their victims – especially by the amount of heat they radiate. Crazy, right!? How do such tiny bugs even have the space in their brains to recall that kind of information? Even weirder, they have favorite times of the day to attack.
“Some [mosquitos] prefer to bite at night when we’re sleeping. Others – those that bite during the day or early evening – have chemicals in their saliva that allow them to bite without us noticing it right away,” CDC insect expert Janet McAllister revealed. That explains that pesky mark you don’t remember ever getting.

It’s The Weather

Most recently, though, a research team discovered that the weather may impact the human populations mosquitos target. It’s all to do with their reproduction cycle and where they’re mating.

Dry Seasons

Often, these bugs target areas with dry seasons and high-density populations of people. Naturally, then, some of the most impacted areas are located across Africa. And experts predict that this trend will only increase in severity over the next 30 years.

Changing Preferences

Will we be under attack from swarms of mosquitos then? Maybe. “We don’t know if this will look like more willingness to bite humans or the evolution of strong preference for humans to the exclusion of other animals,” said Noah Rose, a mosquito expert.

Plan It Now

And although 30 years seems like eons away, we’ll be at that point before you know it. Noah is advocating, then, for a plan to be put in place to alleviate future mosquito problems.

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