Mosquitoes love to bite me. I’ve never met a bug spray I didn’t love (although special shout out to the Burt’s Bees all-natural bug repellent that smells like a dream) and never had a body part that hasn’t been bitten. My mother, on the other hand, hasn’t had a bug bite since approximately 1992.
So what gives? Well, according to science, everything from your blood type to your metabolism can make you a living mosquito magnet or repellent.
Multiple studies on blood types and mosquito bites found that the biting bugs prefer people with Type O blood, with one finding they preferred it almost twice as much as Type A. That same study found that people with Type B blood fell sort of in the middle of the mosquito bite spectrum.
Another reason people get bit is that mosquitoes track their prey through carbon dioxide emission, aka exhaling. So people who breathe out more of this gas, generally larger people, get more mosquito attention than others. This is why little kids don’t get as many mosquito bites as adults — those tiny lungs exhale far less carbon dioxide. Oh and sorry, pregnant ladies: A 2002 study found that women who are in the later stages of pregnancy exhale 21 percent more carbon dioxide than women who aren’t pregnant … which means in addition to being pregnant, you also get to deal with more mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes also love sweaty people, which in the summer is … literally everyone. Lactic acid, which is a byproduct of exercise, comes out in your sweat and mosquitoes are VERY attracted to it. Plus, the sweatier you are, the hotter you are, and mosquitoes love a warm body.
And finally, mosquitoes love a drinker. So all of those summertime beers can add up to you becoming a bug magnet. According to one study, a single 12-ounce beer can turn you into a mosquito magnet. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why this is but it could be because drinking increases body temperature, or because alcohol increases the amount of ethanol we sweat out, but neither of these hypotheses has been proven.
So how can you protect yourself this summer? Well, for one thing, if you’re really serious about warding off mosquitoes, stock up on a good bug repellant. And even if you’re hot and sweaty, consider wearing long pants and sleeves.
“The simplest way, albeit uncomfortable in the heat, [to avoid bites] is to place a barrier between the skin and a day-biting mosquito — that is, long sleeves and long pants,” Dr. Nora Besansky, a professor in the department of biological sciences at Notre Dame, told Fox News. “Even better protection is to apply an effective mosquito repellent to such clothing.”
One tiny catch: Recent studies have found some mosquitoes have developed an immunity to DEET. So you might be out of luck no matter what.