I’m a vegan, and basically follow a Jainist philosophy as much as possible — as in, do no harm to any living creature if at all possible. But there’s one glaring exception. And that, my friends, is the mosquito. Mosquitoes love the crap out of me and treat my body as if it were a delicious Sizzler buffet. On my recent Montana trip, I was told that there were no mosquitoes in the area I was in. Hahaha, WRONG. I emerged the first evening with a constellation of swollen bites on my shoulders. They feasted mightily that night.
Well, according to science (SCIENCE!) I’m one of the lucky 20 percent of people who are especially yummy treats. And my Most Popular Food Ever superlative with the mosquitoes is caused by a variety of factors.
Scientists say that everything from blood type, to metabolism, to skin bacteria and clothing color factor in. People who wear dark colors are easier for mosquitoes to find. Certain skin bacteria are found attractive by the bloodsuckers. They also love sweatier people, because sweat contains the fragrant lactic acid, uric acid and ammonia that they so enjoy. [This explains so much. I am SO sweaty. -- Amelia] Your blood type could also be the culprit: Mosquitoes enjoy Type O blood more than any other. (Type B blood is their backup fave snack.) Being with child brings them on, too: Pregnant women are more likely to get bitten than others (not pregnant so not my problem). Drinking beer attracts them. Even expelling more carbon dioxide — you know, taking deeper breaths — can elicit a mosquito reaping.
But the biggest factor for whether you will be mosquito lunchmeat is genetics. Scientists believe that genetics actually make for around 85 percent of the reason mosquitoes might choose you over someone else. Sadly, there’s no way of modifying the genes that make your flesh so desirable (and my guess is it’s low on the list of possible future studies). So for now, I’m going to try to wear light-colored clothes outside, stay away from beer (easy), and keep my sweating to a minimum. [Smithsonian Magazine]
[Mosquito photo courtesy Shutterstock]