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Do Mosquitoes Love You?

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When you’re outdoors, are you the only one being bitten by mosquitoes? If you’re one of those people, you are on to something. Scientific studies have revealed some contributing factors. Let’s start with why a mosquito bites. First of all, it is the female seeking a protein blood meal for egg production. She lays up to four egg rafts in her lifetime, with 150 to 300 eggs in each raft. She bites each time before laying another set of eggs. How does she find you? Primarily by your breath. Remember school biology discussing how you exhale carbon dioxide, or C02? A female mosquito can detect your breath up to more than 50 yards away. 

What have the studies suggested? First, there is evidence that blood types play a factor. In one study, blood type O people were bitten twice as much as those with type A, while type B people were somewhere in the middle. Larger people and pregnant women tend to emit more CO2, placing them at the higher end of the mosquito bite frequency scale. Exercise and metabolism increase your chances of being bitten as well. You see, sweat produces lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia and other substances that help the mosquito detect you when it closes in for a bite. The heat from your body is another attractant. Keep in mind that different mosquito species also have their preferences.

The fact is, we are all bitten at one time or another. The most important thing is to reduce mosquito bites overall. It is relatively easy with some conscious effort. Start with looking around your home and remove any standing water where mosquitoes develop. Next, research the Environmental Protection Agency-registered repellents. These repellents include products that contain DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus. Be sure to read and follow label instructions. Check with a pediatrician before using repellents on children. Fortunately, there are a variety of products available that are not like the old oily repellents of years past.

I prefer DEET around 25 to 30 percent. Keep a few things in mind. At least for DEET repellents, the percentage is directly related to the amount of time the repellents are effective. Lower percentages are fine for short times spent outdoors. Use the higher percentage for more extended periods. Label directions will recommend when it is time for reapplication of the product. Regardless of what you choose, it is essential to have the product with you.

Parents, it is up to you to have repellents available when your kids are participating in outdoor adventures. Fortunately, repellents come in a variety of forms, including wipes, aerosols and pump spray-on for ease of access. Don’t fall for the old wives’ tales of products not proven to repel mosquitoes. There are so many fallacies being passed around regarding ways to prevent mosquito bites. 

West Nile virus is endemic to our area, and the risk of being bitten by a mosquito carrying the disease is real. To reduce that risk, in addition to using EPA-registered repellents, avoid being out at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. In cooler weather, wear long sleeves and pants. You can even wear double layers of clothes to make it more difficult for mosquitoes to bite. Around your house, be sure window and door screens are in good condition to keep the mosquitoes out and, again, drain any standing water on your property. 

If you do develop mosquito problems, call the San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District so you can enjoy your summer outdoors without worrying about mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.

For more information, call SJC Mosquito & Vector Control District, 209-982-4675, or visit or facebook@SJmosquitoandvector. 

Written by: Aaron Devencenzi, Public Information Officer San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District