Why Mozzies Don’t Like Me
We’ve all known it to happen—while camping, or at an open air concert, or just idling beside the lakeside: the mozzie attack that seems to be personally aimed at you while your companions are left bite-free. It happened this week to my daughter who looked daggers at me. “Why don’t they bite you? There’s not even one near you.” And it was true. They swarmed around her like she was serving best bitter, while me they left fully alone. Now why is that?
Culex pipiens (the English Gnat)
image by alvesgasper, taken from wiki
Back at home I Googled the question. Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Some People More Than Others? Here’s what Smithsonian.com has to say.
- Clothing Colour: Mozzies are particularly attracted to colours that stand out i.e. dark blue, black, and red.
But that wasn’t the answer since both my daughter and I were wearing soft muted colours.
- Beer: Mozzies will hone in on anyone drinking beer.
But my daughter had fruit juice, and I had cold fruit tea (very refreshing when out hiking)
- Carbon dioxide: Apparently mosquitoes can smell the CO2 we exhale with every breath. And the larger the person, the more CO2.
In which case the mozzies should have been feasting on me. We’re of different body types. Strip us down to skeletons and she’d be classed as gracile, and me as robust. Add muscle sufficient to move those bones and, even without addition of subcutaneous fat, I’m always going to weigh in heavier than her.
- Exercise and metabolism: In exerting our muscles we produce a most inviting blend of chemicals that lather our skin and call the mozzies in.
But with my extra weight it should have been me bathed in the inviting sweat. To move that extra weight I needed to work harder. And we had skirted marshes, hastened through townland bright with sun, trudged along a grimy road with traffic kicking up dust, on past fields where rapeseed was being harvested, pushed through an overgrowth of bramble, nettle and bracken on a path less-often used. Now, finally, we had come upon a green-lane, overhung with ancient oaks (at last, out of the sun!). So here we decided to stop for lunch. It was then that the attack happened, leaving me unbitten and my daughter stinging. But it wasn’t that intoxicating mix of chemicals that had invited the mozzies to join in.
- Pregnancy: In studies, pregnant women were found to be twice as likely to attract mosquitoes . . . because they exhale more CO2 and have a slightly higher body temperature.
No, my daughter isn’t pregnant.
- Blood type: It seems mosquitoes have a definite preference for blood type O over blood type A.
Both my daughter and I are blood type B (which as far as invites to mozzies are concerned fall somewhere in the middle). Coincidentally, we had both recently given blood. Myself, 2 phials required for blood tests (which had left a massive bruise where the blood had leaked back); my daughter a pint because she’s a blood-donor.
This leaves just two possibilities.
- Genetics: One person may have a genetic tendency to produce yummy chemicals that mosquitoes just can’t resist, while another genetically produces natural repellents.
But I am not a natural producer of mozzie-repellents. If I were I’d not have suffered their bites in the past (which I most certainly have though not for a while).
- Skin bacteria: A 2011 study showed that having large amounts of certain types of bacteria makes the skin irresistible.
Well, that’s got to be it. Though I did suggest next time we’re out hiking she might like to use my dr.organic moisturizer. It’s one of the few such products without nasty chemicals that 1: bring me out in a rash 2: induces migraine 3: brings on an asthma attack. Based on Vit E, Aloe Vera, Cocoa Butter, and Shea Butter, it contains about two herb gardens full of plant extracts. Evidently at least one of these is a mozzie repellent! I wonder which one.
Of course, it’s possible that different species of mozzies respond to different attractants. In which case, it’s possible none of the above apply!