Why Do Mosquitoes Love to Bite Some People, But Not Others?

Updated on November 18, 2017
Casey White profile image

Dorothy McKenney is a former newspaper reporter turned researcher. Her husband, Mike, is a professional landscape/nature photographer.

A Mosquito Is a Flying Disease-Delivery System That Preurinates

Some species of mosquitoes do what is called pre-urination, meaning they excrete a drop or two of freshly ingested blood without extracting the nourishing blood cells. They don't pre-urinate when they feed on nectar, just blood.
Some species of mosquitoes do what is called pre-urination, meaning they excrete a drop or two of freshly ingested blood without extracting the nourishing blood cells. They don't pre-urinate when they feed on nectar, just blood. | Source

They Have a Preference for Blood Type O

Mosquitoes live to bite humans and I'm pretty sure they think they are doing it for a good reason: They rely on human blood to reproduce. Unfortunately, about a million people die each year from mosquito bites, so if there are ways you can avoid them, by all means, do so. Hopefully, this article will enlighten you if you have ever wondered why these pests bite some people much more than others.

One of the reasons is their preference for one blood type over all others.

The Top Three Blood Types That Mosquitoes Prefer:

  • Type O: Studies have shown that mosquitoes prefer this blood type over and above all others.
  • Type B: Type B is the next popular blood type for these pests.
  • Type A: Apparently Type A is the least popular of the top three blood types and those of you who have it are about half as likely to be bitten as those with Type O.

A Hope-Raising Prediction

Jeff Riffell, an associate biology professor at the University of Washington, predicted recently that in the next 10 years, scientists would be capable of developing a variety of methods to keep humans from being bitten by mosquitoes.

This illustrates why it is hard to tell a male from a female mosquito, although the female is the one that you actually hear making that buzzing noise.
This illustrates why it is hard to tell a male from a female mosquito, although the female is the one that you actually hear making that buzzing noise.

Only the Female Mosquito Bites Humans

When it comes to mosquitoes, there really isn't much good news except that a male mosquito feeds only on nectar. The female mosquito is the only one that bites a human because she has to have the blood in order to produce her eggs.

She uses her saliva to lubricate the opening and her mouthparts are designed to pierce the skin, and she literally sucks out the blood. And, she will continue until her abdomen is full. If interrupted before she is full, she will fly to bite on someone else. After feeding, she will rest for two or three days before laying her eggs, then she is ready to begin again.

Unless you are willing to lift up and look under the legs of a mosquito, I'm pretty sure you are never going to be able to tell which is a male and which is a female, so I suggest you swat and kill all of them. (See graphic illustration on malaria below).

Although, a male mosquito is generally smaller than a female mosquito and only a female makes the annoying sounds you can hear.

Female Mosquitoes Can Transmit Malaria: A Horrible Disease

Malaria is a deadly disease transmitted among humans by only about 30-40 species of female mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles.  There are approximately 430 species in that genus.
Malaria is a deadly disease transmitted among humans by only about 30-40 species of female mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. There are approximately 430 species in that genus. | Source

Other Reasons They May Find You Delicious

Some other reasons that might make you look particularly tasty to mosquitoes (as 20% of the population are) include:

  • Whether or not you are pregnant: Mosquitoes are attracted to warm bodies, and the abdomen of a pregnant woman is more than one degree warmer than normal. Pregnant women release more volatile substances from their skin, causing them to be more easily detected, and in late pregnancy, women have been shown to exhale a 21% greater volume of breath than women who are not pregnant.
  • The color of your clothing: Dark colors, like black, red or navy make you very easy for a mosquito to spot.
  • Whether or not you drink beer: This is hard to hear, but if you have just downed a bottle or can of beer, you are more susceptible to mosquito bites. The reason why is cause for debate.
  • Whether or not you exercise: If you are a couch potato, you are probably less likely to be bitten than one who exercises and sweats. Sweating releases lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia and other compounds that mosquitoes are able to smell, making a sweaty person more likely to be bitten because they are easily found by these disease-carrying devils.
  • How much you exhale: Mosquitoes sense carbon dioxide from great distances, so the more you exhale, the more attractive you become to them. Larger people are more attractive because they exhale more. This also explains why mosquitoes are attracted to our heads, forcing us to hear more of their aggravating buzzing noise.
  • The amount of bacteria on your skin: Since your feet are a likely place for bacteria, this might explain why you often get bitten on your ankles and feet.

Source

Main Goal is to Avoid Illness

The main goal in preventing a mosquito bite is to avoid the often-deadly mosquito-borne illnesses such as the West Nile Virus, encephalitis, yellow fever, malaria and dengue. But, the main goal of this article is to keep you as safe as possible, and away from the irritating mosquitoes that might find you very tasty.

Whoever planted this gorgeous field of lavender is probably not worried about mosquitoes.
Whoever planted this gorgeous field of lavender is probably not worried about mosquitoes.

Plant Shrubs and Flowers That Mosquitoes Don't Like

You can often find adult mosquitoes in bushes and shrubs because they feed on plant nectar, but luckily there are some plants that they don't like much at all, so those are always good to plant around your home, especially in places where people might want to gather outside (like a patio). Some of the things you might want to plant that have been reported to repel mosquitoes include:

  • Lemon balm
  • Lemon thyme
  • Lavender
  • Lime basil
  • Fever tea
  • Catnip (if you don't like cats, don't plant this)
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Pennyroyal
  • Citrosa (a hybrid of African geraniums and Chinese Citronella grass, the leaves of which contain citronella oil that mosquitoes are likely to avoid).

Old Wives Tales

Eating bananas doesn't make you attractive to mosquitoes and taking vitamin B-12 will not repel them.

Don't Give the Mosquito a Chance to Lay Her Eggs

Just in case you are one of the unlucky ones they love, this chart should reveal one of the ways you can prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs in standing water around your home:  Simply make sure there isn't any.
Just in case you are one of the unlucky ones they love, this chart should reveal one of the ways you can prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs in standing water around your home: Simply make sure there isn't any. | Source

A Great Video by National Geographic

There Are About 3,000 Species of Mosquitoes Worldwide

Of the 3,000 species of mosquitoes worldwide, there are about 200 different species of mosquitoes in the United States, all of which differ in the level of their persistence, their biting habits, and their ability to transmit disease. Apparently, Iceland and the Faroe Islands (an archipelago between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic) are the only countries in the world where there are no mosquitoes.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Mike and Dorothy McKenney

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Casey White profile image
        Author

        Mike and Dorothy McKenney 7 months ago from United States

        They do seem to seek out the people on whom they can inflict the most pain. Your blood type is probably the thing that makes them munch on you. Thanks so much for taking the time to read the article and comment. It is very much appreciated.

      • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

        June Parker 7 months ago from New York

        I am super allergic to these tiny pest and they just love me. The only thing that keeps them away is heavy duty deep. As much as I hate using the poisonous stuff, it the only thing that works and I have tried literally everything! Funny, the only things I fit in the profile is my blood type and I drink beer. Put me next to 9 other people drinking beer and I'll be the only one getting attacked. LOL. I always thought the males made the buzzing sound to attract the females to mate while the females are quietly biting away as they need the blood to nourish their eggs once mated. Great article, by the way.

      working