Mosquito Bites: 10 Weird Reasons You’re Getting Bitten

Mosquitoes buzz: Whom they love to bite, where they like to hang out, and which repellents they hate the most.

By Lauren Gelman
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine July 2013
  • Loading
    McKibillo

    We love when you work up a sweat.

    You think we’re drawn by the aroma of your “sweet blood,” but it’s really the carbon dioxide you exhale that makes us beeline toward you. The harder you breathe, the more CO2 you emit, so you’re especially attractive after a jog.

    iStockphoto/Thinkstock

    Hate getting bitten up?

    Blame the ladies. We don’t like to admit this, but male mosquitoes do not eat human blood: They get all their nutrition from plant nectar. We females need your blood, which contains a protein that helps our eggs develop. After we have a blood meal, we can lay anywhere from 100 to 400 eggs.

    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Love beer?

    So do some of us. It’s crazy, but we can tell when you’ve been drinking because your skin chemistry changes, and it lures us in.

    iStockphoto/Thinkstock

    Smelly feet are simply delicious.

    In fact, scientists have shown that we find your tootsies ten times more alluring than Limburger cheese (but really our favorite body part is your hand).

    Eyecandy Images/Thinskstock

    To evade us at a party, don’t be a wallflower.

    When we smell a huge mass of carbon dioxide, we fly toward it; after we get there, it’s easier to attack the people on the perimeter of the group than those smack-dab in the center.


    Juptierimages/Thinkstock

    If your home’s landscaping is well tended, we won’t like it as much.

    We like to hang out in thick, overgrown vegetation. The darker and more humid, the better. If you keep your lawn mowed, pool skimmed, and bushes trimmed, your backyard won’t be very appealing. Removing puddles of stagnant water is also a great way to repel us—that’s where we like to lay our eggs.

    Hemera/Thinkstock

    We’re thrilled when you buy DEET-free repellent.

    DEET, along with picaridin, is among the stronger types that help keep us away. Each type blocks different receptors that allow us to track you down. We’re also not big fans of lemon eucalyptus and the compound IR3535, although these are a little weaker than DEET and picaridin.

    Jupiterimages/Thinkstock

    Got those CO2-emitting traps in your yard?

    Great! You may think you’re outsmarting us with these devices, which emit carbon dioxide to lure us into a trap. But they may attract more of us than they are able to trap, increasing our presence in your yard. UV bug zappers aren’t effective either: Only a fraction of the pests they kill are mosquitoes.

    iStockphoto/Thinkstock

    Pregnant? Yum.

    If you’re a woman who’s expecting, you emit more carbon dioxide and your abdomen has a higher temperature than when you’re not pregnant, drawing some of us right to you. Sorry, baby.

    Fuse/Thinkstock

    When it comes to West Nile, end-of-summer bites may do more harm.

    It’s simple logic: We bite birds who have the West Nile virus; then we bite humans and spread it. By summer’s end, we’ve had more chances to bite infected birds. 

    POPULAR RIGHT NOW

    Want to stay smart and healthy?

    Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

    Sending Message
    how we use your e-mail

    Your Comments

    • http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005AN3TK0 FaceliftMask

      I find that eating Bananas is a real mosquito magnet.

      • A

        It’s actually true. I have a mild form of skeeter’s syndrome (aka my bites swell up really large), and doctors have told me to avoid eating bananas in the summer and fall. avoiding bananas has indeed minimized my bites. wear light clothing too.

    • Awake

      My daughter has been getting bitten non-stop and has been complaining, but with this information laid before me, it’s easy to see why. Thank you, RD, for this information.