Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Me and Not You?
The experts at Tarrant County Public Health give us the answer
If you’ve chosen to brave the Texas heat this summer, you may have noticed that some of the few creatures to venture out with you are the mosquitoes. Or you maybe you are one of the fortunate souls that never seemed to be bitten by a mosquito.
Is it possible that some of us are mosquito magnets, while others seem to naturally repel their attacks?
Is there something about you that mosquitoes particularly prefer over other people? The answer is probably yes, according to Nina M Dacko, MS, Vector Control Supervisor, of the Environmental Health Division for Tarrant County Public Health.
“This question’s answers are not fully understood, but there are many things that make people “more attractive” to mosquitoes,” Dacko said.
Dacko said some of these include:
- Scented body lotions
- Sprays - especially those that smell like flowers (mosquitoes do feed on nectar after all)
- Sweat (lactic acid)
- Smelly feet (octanol)
- The smell of someone’s breath
“These vary from person to person since some people sweat more than others and some release more carbon dioxide,” Dacko said. “It even comes down to which bacteria are living on the surface of your skin.”
But it may not be only your smell that makes you a mosquito-magnet. It may also come down to your genetics. It has been suggested O type blood is the most attractive to mosquitoes, though science isn’t sure why.
To stay free of those pesky bites and any diseases that mosquitoes may carry, the Tarrant County Public Health office offers these suggestions:
- Use an EPA approved repellent
- Wear long sleeves and pants
- Avoid being outdoors during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are the most active
Is There Danger Now?
On Tuesday, July 24, Tarrant County Public Health reported the first countywide West Nile case of the season. Dacko assures that, “In Tarrant County this year, our [mosquito] activity is low to moderate.” However, “Much of the West Nile Virus activity peaks out around the last week of July/first week of August, so only time will tell for sure.”
Mosquito trap numbers remain low in the area right now. The entomologist team credits that to the drought and extreme temperatures across the area. Tarrant County Public Health reminds us to use EPA-approved insect repellent and limit outdoor activities when the mosquitoes are biting.
Since 2013, Tarrant County Public Health has recorded over 45 species of mosquitoes in the county, and they suspect that there are more to be catalogued. Nina M Dacko, MS, Vector Control Supervisor, of the Environmental Health Division explains, “Each mosquito species is unique; they feed on different hosts, they lay eggs in different manners, and they may feed at different times of day.”
Disease transmitting species in Tarrant County include Culex quinquefasciatus (or Southern House mosquito), infamous for spreading West Nile Virus, and Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, (the Yellow Fever mosquito and the Asian Tiger mosquito, respectively), who may be able to spread Zika, Dengue and Yellow Fever should these diseases be introduced.
Luckily, the Southern House mosquitoes are low in numbers this summer due to the lack of rain. However, the Aedes species are on the rise. Both the Yellow Fever mosquito and the Asian Tiger mosquito prefer to find man-made features that hold standing water. Dacko warns that, “It is important that Tarrant County residents routinely dump any standing water on their property to prevent potential mosquito breeding sites.”