This week, Pamela Edwards, who specializes in family medicine at Lady's Island Medical Center, discusses whether mosquitoes, no-see-ums and other bugs really are attracted to some people more than others and offers tips on how to avoid being bit.
Question. Is it true that mosquitoes, no-see-ums and other bugs like some people's blood more than others? Does wearing perfume or fragrant hair products attract the bugs? Is there any solution to avoiding bug bites that doesn't mean smelling like eau de bug spray?
Answer. The susceptibility of some people to insect bites is under investigation at this time. There is some research implicating some common factors serve to entice insects, and mosquitoes in particular, to feast on your skin. Those factors are: movement, body heat, acid production (e.g., lactic acid or uric acid), increased exhaled carbon dioxide, being around standing water or marshes, and genetic factors and blood type (predominantly type O).
So thank your neighbor jogging down the street. As they jog, their movement, increased body heat, lactic acid production and increased carbon dioxide exhalation (from the panting caused by jogging outside in South Carolina) will send off signals to mosquitoes 50 meters away, causing them to charge him or her. And if the jogger has type O blood, then that may be an additional come-hither enticement for the mosquitoes. Hopefully, that will give us indoor Zumba-doing people enough time to walk to our cars without being attacked.
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Contrary to some popular belief, body odor (per se) and fragrances do not seem to significantly impact an insect's choice of dinner.
There are several ways to prevent becoming a meal for the local arthropods:
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