New Brunswick

Are you a mosquito magnet? Bring a chicken and don't drink beer

With their all too familiar buzz and itchy bites, mosquitos are a general summer pest. But as it turns out, some people are more attractive to them than others.

While mosquitos don't appear too choosy, certain blood types may suffer more from their attacks

While mosquitos don't appear too choosy, certain blood types may suffer more from their attacks. (Frank Hadley Collins/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

With their all too familiar buzz and itchy bites, mosquitos are a general summer pest.

But as it turns out, some people are more attractive to them than others.

Michael Edwards, director of strategic initiatives at Science East, said the most common reason why some people appear more delicious to the tiny blood suckers is their carbon dioxide output.

"Pregnant women produce about 20 per cent more carbon dioxide. They tend to get bitten much more often," he said.

Dark clothing and high contrast also attract mosquitos, so Edwards suggested anyone going out in the summer dress in light colours instead.

Blood type

While mosquitos don't appear too choosy, certain blood types may suffer more from their attacks.

Edwards said that about 85 per cent of people secrete a chemical signal through their skin indicating their blood type. (Tarek Mahmud/Flickr)

Edwards said that about 85 per cent of people secrete a chemical signal through their skin indicating their blood type.

And that has an impact on how often you get bitten, he said.

"If you are type O, you're twice as likely to be bitten as someone who is type A, type B, or somewhere in the middle," he said.

Chemicals in sweat

It's also best to avoid sweating - easier said than done in the summer - because mosquitos pick up on certain chemicals, such as lactic acid, in a person's sweat.

Edwards said if a person is exercising or doing yard work, mosquitos can smell them. 

"There is also some bacteria on your skin and some bacteria seem to be more attractive to mosquitos," he said.

"Some of those tend to accumulate on your ankles and your feet, and that's why feet and ankles tend to be bitten fairly often."

Other animals

Humans may think they are a mosquitos' favourite thing to bite.

Edwards said if a person is exercising or doing yard work, mosquitos can smell them. (Jeffrey Arguedas/EPA)

But chickens are another story, said Edwards.

"Chickens don't seem to get bitten," he said, adding that "mosquitos seem to be actively avoiding chickens."

Edwards said one theory is that the skin of a chicken is much harder for the mosquito to access.

But the quality of their blood is also "not as good as the quality of blood in a human," he said.

One bottle of beer

But one of the number one reasons why humans attract mosquitos is our tendency to enjoy cold beer.

Chances are if you enjoy a cold beer, the mosquitos are going to be biting heavily, said Edwards.

"There seems to be something about this," he said. "One bottle of beer makes you twice as likely to be bitten."

Edwards said there is no perfect answer to keep mosquitos away.

But he suggested bringing a pregnant woman, someone with type O blood, and a chicken to your next camping trip.

With files from Shift NB

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