Calgary

Mosquitoes are back and biting based on these 3 factors

The mosquitos are back and they're biting, but why do they favour the flesh of some over others? According to Dr. Raj Bhardwaj, there are three reasons why you might appear more delicious than your bite-free friend.

Dr. Raj Bharwaj lays out why some get bit more than others

Closeup of a mosquito on skin.
Mosquitoes use three sense to track us down and dine, but some are more delicious than others. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control)

The mosquitoes are back and they're biting, but why do they favour the flesh of some over others?

According to Dr. Raj Bhardwaj, there are three reasons why you might appear more delicious than your bite-free friend.

"One is carbon dioxide. Mosquitos love it. They're really good at detecting it, so if you happen to breath out more carbon dioxide than another person at your campsite or in your backyard, then you're going to be easier to find," he says.

There's also lactic acid, which is produced by working muscles, and thirdly, the burden of genetics.

"They figure that somewhere between 67 and 85 per cent of a person's attractiveness to a mosquito is based on their genetics and of course we can't change that," says Bhardwaj, citing studies that involved twins being exposed to the nefarious insects.

Powerful senses

In order to track us down, mosquitos use three different senses as they narrow in, starting with sniffing out our CO2 at a distance of 50 metres. 

"They follow these carbon dioxide plumes to the source and then once they're within about 15 metres, then they start to look around and actually zero in," says Bhardwaj.

"Then, when they're really close, within about three metres, then they go with heat."

Reactions to the bites vary depending on your physiology, with some suffering for days, while others recover quickly.

As for preventative measures?

"Apparently there's a chemical that smells like rancid butter that confuses mosquito smell receptors," says Bhardwaj. "They haven't marketed that because it smells like rancid butter."

There's also the time-tested chemical warfare that is DEET, but those looking for a natural alternative can find soybean-based repellants that are effective for shorter periods of time.

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