Mosquito bites are often the bane of any tropical holiday, camping trip, or regular outdoor hangout. Those who are common fodder for the insects will know how horrid it can be and how many bottles of bug spray you can go through trying to get some relief from the little biters.
While some people resort to the common answers to the cry ‘why do they always bite me?’ your biting potential doesn’t boil down to any of the reason you’ve probably heard. While most people point to your blood type, or your perfume, or a red meat-heavy diet, the real reason you might be a target has nothing to do with any of that.
Turns out it’s actually because of the types of bacteria that exist on your skin. Microbial ecologist Rob Knight explained in his 2014 TED talk that some bacteria secrete chemicals that have better smells than others. This means that mosquitoes are more likely to want to chow down on people with more attractive smells. A scientific study by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln found that the mosquito responsible for transmitting the Zika virus is attracted to lactic acid on the skin. Lactic acid can be found in milk and cheese.
And it’s not just our bacterial friends who send out smelly signals: mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide in our breath, and they tend to love people who are exercising. A study by the California Institute of Technology showed that mosquitoes can find human hosts by detecting the CO2 in their breath. If you’ve ever been outside doing some physical activity and you felt them biting away more than normal and wondered why, there’s your answer.
For those with an irresistible smell, there’s more at stake than just some itchy red bumps. Let’s keep in mind that these creatures are one of the world’s most dangerous species, aiding the spread of Zika, dengue fever, chikungunya, and malaria.
In fact, mosquitoes kill several million people each year, according to the World Health Organization. That’s more deaths than from humans, snakes, and dogs combined!
This summer, remember that it’s all about your health. Be sure to protect your family and yourself, and if you’re planning to travel anywhere affected by these diseases (or even if you just don’t want to get bitten!) it’s important to know what kinds of mosquito repellents actually work.
Click NEXT POST to read more stories like this and don’t forget to SHARE with your Facebook friends.