Why Mosquitoes Bite Some People More Than Others – There’s a good chance that there’s a killer lurking in your home right now. She’s probably watching you from some shadowy corner of your house even as you read this article. Don’t bother looking over your shoulder, she’s far too stealthy, and in fact- she’s probably already struck.
Without you even knowing it she’s already injected you with a deadly cocktail and now you’re as good as dead. If you live anywhere but Antarctica, then you’re pretty well acquainted with the mosquito. These flying insects are the bane of all humans in during the spring and summer months, and they can ruin anything from a day at the lake to a backyard barbecue.
But in many cases, they’ll do more than just leave behind an itchy bump, as mosquitoes are also one of the leading disease vectors in the natural kingdom. In fact, mosquitoes are considered by many to be the deadliest animal to have ever existed,and some scientists estimate that they may have killed as many as half of all humans that have ever lived, all through the spread of various diseases and parasites.
The mosquito of today is no exception, and reports of deadly West Nile virus have popped up everywhere from Canada to the United States to across Europe. You can’t run, and you definitely can’t hide. Mosquitoes will look for you. They will find you. And like a revenge-fueled Liam Neeson, they just might kill you.
The best part? With global warming heating up the earth and changing the climate, the northern latitudes that mosquitoes can show up at have been steadily increasing for years, and the longer warm seasons all around the world have given mosquitoes even more time to do what they do best: breed by the trillions.
Soon any argument that global warming is real or not will be moot as we’ll all be too busy trying to climb out from under an avalanche of disease bearing mosquitoes. But why do mosquitoes even bite in the first place? And why does it seem like sometimes you get covered from head to toe in bites that refuse to stop itching for days while your friend remains somehow untouched?
Well this might come as a surprise, but mosquitoes primarily feed on nectar, the natural juices of various plants, and fruit juices, and in fact the male mosquito does not bite animal hosts at all, sticking to an all-vegan diet that compliments his modern yoga-fueled lifestyle. Male mosquitoes it turns out are rather peaceful individuals, and have no wish to harm any other living beings, content to gather all their sustenance from fruits and plants.
See you at the smoothie bar Mr. Mosquito. Female mosquitoes on the other hand, are hellbent, rampant, bloodthirsty succubi that kill in the millions all in the name of procreation. That’s because before a female mosquito can lay her eggs, she needs to obtain proteins only found in the blood of animals.
When a daddy mosquito loves a mommy mosquito very much, he gifts her a package of sperm which she holds on to in order to develop eggs, and then the mommy mosquito flies away to drink the blood of dozens of innocent victims, leaving a trail of death and destruction in her wake. Many human relationships follow a similar pattern.
Only by acquiring fresh blood can her body get the proteins that she can’t get from plant nectar which in turn allow her to rapidly develop a brood of eggs, which she then fertilizes with the male’s sperm package. While the exact process varies depending on species of mosquito- because nature hates you and wants you to know it so of course there’s more than one species- ultimately the female will find a source of water or moisture in order to deposit her eggs.
There her job is done, and she flies away to do it all over again- unlike many other species of insects and animals mosquitoes breed as often as they can, and once again scientists have confirmed that this is because nature hates us. On their own though, mosquitoes are quite harmless- even the females who do all the biting.
When a mosquito bites, she is kind enough to inject you with a topical anesthetic which numbs the immediate area of the bite. Then she injects her needle-like proboscis deep into your flesh- an instrument so finely tuned that today scientists are replicating its construction in order to make pain-free syringes.
However like a sloppy first-time kisser, the mosquito’s saliva ends up spreading all over your bodily tissues, and this triggers an immune response from your hyper-vigilant immune system. The body then produces histamine which is aimed at increasing blood flow to the area so that more white blood cells can hitch a ride to the site of the intrusion, but unfortunately the histamine also messes with nerve cells in the vicinity which causes the intense itching associated with mosquito bites.
Some people’s immune systems however don’t even react to the mosquito’s saliva, either because their immune system is incredibly lazy and can’t be bothered to do its job,or because it has grown tolerant to the saliva after identifying it as a non-threat. You can always identify who these lucky individuals who don’t react to mosquito bites are by the way they constantly ask, “There’s mosquitoes in these parts?” when you show up looking like you’ve developed the measles after a two day camping trip.
Try and not hurt them, no matter how much they deserve it. On their own, mosquitoes are pretty harmless. Just like sharing needles amongst drug users triggered an AIDS crisis in inner city populations around the world decades ago though, having mosquitoes fly from victim to victim and biting each is a great way to transfer diseases.
Though the mosquito uses your blood to create its offspring- which we have to admit is pretty metal of them- there’s bound to be microscopic portions of blood and all the other things it contains left in its proboscis, which is then injected into a new host when the mosquito bites again. This makes mosquitoes the world’s number one disease vector, with between 725,000 and 1 million estimated victims a year.
Most of these victims fall prey to malaria, which has been haunting mankind for millennia and still infects an estimated 200 million people every year, killing 600,000. This officially makes mosquitoes the deadliest animal on earth, surpassing even the total kill count of humanity. By comparison, the US civil war- deadliest war in its history- killed approximately 620,000 in four years of fighting.
That means every year mosquitoes kill the equivalent of a four-year American civil war. While medicine constantly improves and access to health care is expanded around the world, global warming is believed to only increase these figures, even into modern First World nations like the US, where the medical bills for treatment alone will probably kill you before disease does.
So how do mosquitoes find their victims, and why do some people get bit more than others? Well, mosquitoes are capable of identifying their victims by sight given their very large compound eyes, but they are only able to see in shades of white and black. This is why individuals with darker clothing or darker skin tones are more likely to get bit than those with not,
they stand out better against the lightly colored sky and thus serve as a beacon for hungry mosquitoes. If you want to reduce your chance of getting bitten then we recommend that you wear lighter colored clothing, which will definitely put a cramp in the style of any goth community that doesn’t want to die to malaria.
However mosquitoes also hone in on their prey with their delicate antennas, which can ‘sniff’the air for various scents that your body gives off. One of those scents, and a virtual dinner bell for mosquitoes, is that of lactic acid,which is the same acid that builds up in your body while you exercise. Its scent can leak out through the pores in your skin and linger in the air, which a hungry mosquito will follow back to the source.
This is especially attractive to mosquitoes because typically large amounts of lactic acid means that an individual has been moving or exercising a lot, and has an increased blood flow which will bring delicious blood closer to the upper layers of the skin. Carbon dioxide however also attracts mosquitoes, and every time you exhale you’re throwing up a neon sign that says get your dinner right here.
Surprisingly though it turns out that mosquitoes do have their preferred victims, which might be why you’re the only one in the group that gets eaten alive every time you go camping. Individuals with type O blood are basically a delicacy for mosquitoes, and preferred over other blood types. There is also a genetic component which scientists have not yet identified which causes mosquitoes to prefer you over other people and thus lead to more bites.
That’s right, something in your genes literally calls out to mosquitoes to come dine on you-you can thank your parents for that one. However there are other factors that draw mosquitoes from one individual to another which can be controlled, and help reduce the likelihood of being bitten. These include the presence of abundant skin bacteria- so if you don’t shower, expect to get bit more often- as well as heavy breathers.
Individuals with high body heat and pregnant women are also more attractive to mosquitoes. So how do you avoid being bitten and dying to a horrible disease or parasite? Well, first of all forget any of those scented candles you so often see for sale in stores-they have been proven time and time again to not work except in closed-in areas with no air circulation.
The reason why should be obvious, but basically even a slight breeze will disperse the smoke produced by the candles and dilute it in the environment enough that it basically becomes useless. You can forget even harder any homeopathic candles you bought from etsy claiming to use’natural remedies’ to keep mosquitoes away- not only do they not work for the same reason as traditional repellent candles, but they also don’t work because homeopathy is not science.
Instead spray yourself with good old-fashioned, man-made chemical repellents, applying a thin layer every ninety minutes for best results. However after what you learned here, the best way to avoid being bitten is to never exercise so you don’t produce any lactic acid at all. Become a motionless blob, because any muscle movement produces lactic acid, and also stop breathing- the carbon dioxide in your breath will alert mosquitoes to your presence.
Alternatively, you could use the same principle as that used in the common bear-attack avoidance technique of simply being around someone who runs slower than you, and just hang around people who breathe heavier than you, are pregnant, and exercise a lot. The best mosquito avoidance technique may just be to camouflage yourself in the middle of a mosquito buffet, looked over by the dozens of hungry mosquitoes on the prowl for someone more delicious than you. Are you prone to being bitten by mosquitoes? How do you avoid being bitten by mosquitoes? Let us know in the comments.