Why Do Mosquitoes Like You So Much?

(Last Updated On: August 13, 2021)
Eugh. The worst.

It’s summertime, which means you might be taking advantage of the warmer nights to sit around outside. Which means you might be running into more bugs that want a piece of you when you’re just trying to have drinks on the porch. For those who are unfortunate enough to be the favorites of mosquitoes, though, you’re probably not going outside. So, why are some of us so loved by these bugs we hate so much? Bugs so hated there is a very real case for rendering them extinct. If you’re the unfortunate sap in your friend group, why do mosquitoes like you so much? 

You Smell. You Also Breathe.

Well. Maybe not you specifically. Or maybe you specifically. 

Of the mosquitoes that bite people (including the ones that spread malaria or dengue), they all love human body odor. We have more lactic acid in our skin than most other animals (including other primates), and female mosquitoes respond more to lactic acid–especially when carbon dioxide is present as well. Remember that carbon dioxide is what you breathe out–almost all mosquitoes respond positively to it. This is probably because you (and other mammals) exhale carbon dioxide–which means you’re breathing. Not breathing is incompatible with life, and mosquitoes want living blood.

Some mosquitoes also react positively to ammonia–regardless of the presence of carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, this ammonia is in your sweat.

A lot of your personal body odor is genetic, so there isn’t much you can really do about whether or not mosquitoes like how you smell. If you have an identical twin and mosquitoes like you, there’s a very good chance mosquitoes also like your sibling.

Maybe You’re Drunk. Or Warm.

If you like popping a cold one outside with your friends, this might give you pause. Mosquitoes are actually more attracted to people who have been drinking, for multiple reasons. First, alcohol raises the concentration of ethanol in your sweat–which has been shown to attract mosquitoes in a test where volunteers drank some beer.

Having some drinks also raises the temperature of your skin–you know this if you’ve ever felt flush after a drink. Mosquitoes are attracted to temperature–since we’re warm blooded and being warm is, big surprise, compatible with life. 

You also could have a poor taste in fashion (potentially influenced by your being intoxicated). This is actually not a joke–mosquitoes are shown to land more often on darker surfaces, particularly reds, greens, and blacks. It may please you to know, then, that North Carolina State University made clothing mosquitoes can’t bite through

Your Blood Type and Sugar

It seems like some blood types are simply more attractive to these annoying little buggers than others. A study in 2004 showed that mosquitoes were far more likely to land on people with type O blood than type A or B. Type B came in second with mosquito attraction, while there wasn’t much difference between types A and AB. 

So if you don’t have any friends with type O blood, maybe invite them to your next barbeque to keep the bugs off you. 

Some evidence suggests that mosquitoes are actually after sugar when they feed more often than they are after blood. Both the males and females get theirs from flower nectar most of the time. This does mean you might be able to protect yourself with a more attractive target that isn’t an unfortunate friend by having some cotton balls doused in sugar water on the patio. If you try this and it works, let us know. 

Mosquitoes are super annoying, so here’s an a-nnoying typing challenge you can bug yourself with here.



About Kyler 687 Articles
Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and is currently studying at the University of Washington School of Law. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019; sometimes the blog is an excellent platform to answer random personal questions he has about the world. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.