Do you feel like your body is like a mosquito candy? Do your arms get nibbled up and down, while your partner’s stay untouched? Is this just your imagination…or is there actually some science behind why some of us seem especially tasty to those annoying little skeeters? 

It turns out that there really are some people who get way more munched on than others!

What attracts mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes love people. That’s because every time we exhale, we blow out carbon dioxide, which activates the targeting sensors in mosquitoes brains, helping them locate their next! Every time we exhale our breath is basically a little matador waving a red cape at a bull, “Hey, come and get me!” But it’s more than just the carbon dioxide that attracts mosquitos. Some people just taste extra yummy to these little bloodsuckers! In fact, research shows that about 20% of people can blame their genetics for their mosquito bites. 

Why do mosquitoes bite me?

While some things that make you extra appealing to mosquitoes are unavoidable, like genetics, there are certain actions you can take to curb your mosquito appeal. Heres the rundown of various reasons why mosquitoes bite you:

Your blood type attracts mosquitoes.

People with type O blood are almost twice as likely to attract mosquito bites than type A’ers. How does a mosquito know what type you are? (It’s not like they’ve earned a medical degree!) Interestingly, 85% of people have chemical signals released through their skin that reveal their blood type, so mosquitoes can tell when their favorite flavor (so to speak) is nearby.

Pregnancy attracts mosquitoes.

As if expecting didn’t already come with enough uncomfortable side effects, pregnancy also make you two times as attractive to mosquitoes. There are two big reasons why mosquitos like to nibble on mamas-to-be: First, pregnant individuals exhale up to 21% more mosquito-attracting carbon dioxide than their non-expecting peers. At the same time, mosquitoes are attracted to heat. And being pregnant raises your body temperature by an average of 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, a mosquito sees you as a warm, tasty treat! 

Carbon dioxide attracts mosquitoes.

You may have heard that a dog’s sense of smell is 40 times greater than a person’s—but that’s small potatoes compared to the power of a mosquito’s tiny sniffer! No, mosquitoes don’t have noses, but thanks to their maxillary palps, a mosquito can smell the carbon dioxide in your breath from up to 164 feet away! That means people who have been performing strenuous exercise outside are basically walking advertisements to a mosquito for an all-you-can-eat buffet. 

Alcohol attracts mosquitoes.

Mosquitos, it seems, prefer beer-drinkers! Researchers speculate that this insect attraction might have to do with alcohol making sweat sweeter or raising the body’s temperature, both of which are known to lure mosquitoes. Another possibility: The carbon dioxide that fizzles out of a beer bottle when opened could attract mosquitoes, too. But, in then end, the jury is still out on why mosquitoes are attracted to beer-drinkers. Who knows, maybe they just like the taste of hops! 

Dark colors attract mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes’ itty-bitty insect eyes can recognize certain colors and patterns, which helps them spot humans. For example, dark colors, like black, blues, and even deep reds, make you stand out to mosquitoes...and so do floral patterns. This is especially true at dawn and dusk when mosquito’s vision is at its sharpest. So, to help keep mosquitoes away, consider throwing on a light-colored long-sleeve t-shirt when outside early in the morning or late at night.  

Final thoughts on what attracts mosquitoes:

Even if mosquitoes seem to find your skin irresistible, there are a few ways to keep those itchy buggers at bay for your family, such as:

  • Avoid going out during peak mosquito hours (dawn and dusk).

  • Dress in light-colored clothes.

  • Apply bug repellant with about 15% DEET or picaridin to your clothing, like socks, shorts, cap, neck of shirt, etc. (This is safe for children older than 2 months.)

  • Keep a fan on to disperse your CO2.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using mosquito netting to keep infants safe from bites. For example Shoo, the mosquito net made especially for SNOO, protects babies from bug bites while they snooze!

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants made from woven cotton, denim, or nylon.

If you can take as many of these steps as possible, there’s a good chance that mosquitoes will take the hint and…buzz off!


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About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.