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Mosquito Attraction 101

Updated on March 6, 2016

Do You Attract Mosquitoes Like A Magnet?

If you attract mosquitoes like a magnet then it’s no longer a mystery, and you can blame your parents, and their parents for it. That’s right, one in ten people are highly attractive to mosquitoes and scientists have discovered that a massive 85% of susceptibility to mosquito bites is genetics. They've also identified certain elements in our body chemistry that make mosquitoes swarm closer. Some people naturally emit more uric acid and other substances mosquitoes like while others have a particular type of skin bacteria that makes them more attractive.

The latest research on what makes certain people highly attractive to mosquitoes include:

1. Alcohol - Just one bottle of beer can significantly boost your risk of being bitten, according to a study published in Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. (AMCA). Researchers suspect it's because drinking beer increases the ethanol in your sweat, and ups your body temperature

2. Pregnancy - Pregnant women get bitten about twice as much as the rest of us. That’s because the body temperature of pregnant women is a degree warmer than everyone else, and they exhale 21% more carbon dioxide (C02), a known mosquito attractant.

3. Blood type - Most people secrete substances that allow mosquitoes to identify blood type before they bite.Type O blood types are bitten twice as much as Type A. Type B is somewhere in the middle.

4. Exercise - According to the AMCA, physical activity ups the risk for bites by as much as 50%. Working out builds up lactic acid in your sweat, making you more appealing. Movement is another cue.

5. Foot Odour - Smelly feet (and socks) is apparently irresistible to mosquitoes. Specifically, it's the bacteria that grow on our feet that seems to draw them in. Limburger cheese, made with the same bacteria found on your feet, will also attract the biters.

6. Clothing - According to the AMCA dark clothing has been shown to attract some species of mosquitoes more than lighter colored clothing. Avoid wearing black, navy blue and red, as you will stand out more.

Mosquitoes use infrared light to home in on our body's heat

How Mosquitoes Select their Targets

Blood seeking female mosquitoes are drawn to their human targets by a combination of odors from the skin and breath (C02). Mosquitoes with gourmet tendencies! They can smell their dinner – that’s you – from an impressive distance of up to 50 meters.

Mosquitoes can also detect heat and movement and are strongly attracted to human sweat. Armpit sweat is more attractive to mosquitoes than sweat from other parts of the body. So if you don’t want to become a mosquito magnet and invite an onslaught of mosquito bites, best advice, become a lounge lizard or offer them up an alternative target. Because once they do start to bite, a feeding frenzy occurs as the biting mosquitoes apparently release volatile pheromones that attract yet more mosquitoes (M.W.Service, Mosquito Ecology Field Sampling Methods, 1993).

Overall, the highest risk times for mosquito bites are dusk and dawn, however that can increase 500% with a full moon (AMCA).

Mosquito Biting Chart

Mosquito Species
Biting Times
Aedes Aegypti
CO2, Sweat, Octenol
Dawn & Dusk & Day
Aedes Albopictus (Asian Tiger
Visual Cues, Dark Colors, CO2, Sweat
Day, Early Morning, Late AFternoon
Aedes Vexans
Dawn & Dusk & Night
Anopheles albimanus
CO2, Sweat, Light
Dawn & Dusk & Night
Anopheles quadrimaculatus
CO2, Ammonia, Light
Dawn & Dusk & Night
Culex pipiens
CO2, Light
Dawn & Dusk & Night
Culex restuans
CO2, Sweat, Light
Dawn & Dusk & Night
Culex tarsalis
CO2, Sweat, Light
Dawn & Dusk & Night
Ochlerotatus canadensis
Skin warmth
Dawn & Dusk & Day & Night
Ochlerotatus triseriatus
Skin warmth, skin odors (octenol)

Certain mosquito repellent home remedies, like garlic and dryer sheets, might work for some, but for guaranteed pest protection use an insect repellent registered with the EPA — that way you know the product has been rigorously tested

The best way to outsmart mosquitoes and enjoy the outdoors more? Think TRAPS!

T Traps used daily will interrupt breeding cycles and dramatically reduce mosquito numbers

R Repellents like DEET and Picaridin provide excellent personal protection

A Avoid the outdoors during periods of peak mosquito activity – typically dawn and dusk

P Protective clothing; light colored, long-sleeved shirt and pants can give added defense

S Standing, stagnant water anywhere are potential mosquito nurseries and should be eliminated

Mega-Catch Multi-stimuli, Human Mimicking Mosquito Trap
Mega-Catch Multi-stimuli, Human Mimicking Mosquito Trap

For season long protection consider a mosquito trap. When placed strategically near breeding spots, “they have knocked [mosquito] populations down,” reports Joseph Conlon, technical adviser for the AMCA (WebMD, July 7, 2009).

Mosquito traps that take advantage of mosquitoes’ sensory abilities by tricking them with features that mimic the smells and visual stimuli associated with people are the most effective.

Because at least some mosquito species (Aedes) use visual cues like color and movement to locate targets Mega-Catch researchers concluded that it was possible that the physical design of their trap acted as a further mosquito attractant and contributed to its success. i.e. a dark, well-defined object of similar size to a small human, calf or dog.

Get Rid of Mosquitoes

There’s nothing you can do (yet) about being one of those genetically susceptible individuals who attract mosquitoes like a magnet. But you can do something about where you live and your environment. Some of the worst mosquito populations occur along coastal areas.

There is only one area in the world guaranteed mosquito free, and that’s Antarctica. However, relocating there may be considered extreme especially when there are alternatives like mosquito traps to help get rid of mosquitoes from your yard.


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      hasini munasinghe 7 years ago

      why do they always hang around ears ?