Why do mosquitoes prefer to eat some people over others?


#1

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#2

Anecdotal as hell, but everyone I know that's O- (self included) seems to be a mosquito magnet. If I'm sitting around a camp fire with a bunch of people, I'm the one that gets bit and everyone else is pretty much left alone. For no good reason I know a fair number of other people with O- (shouldn't, seeing as we're all of 5% of the planet's population), and they all report experiencing the same thing.


#3

A shame they suggest antibacterial soaps - those things are just pointless, and (IIRC) associated with antibiotic resistance.


#4

Why do mosquitoes prefer to eat some people over others?

Why does anyone?


#5

I was talking to someone the other day who was certain that blood levels of potassium had something to do with mosquito preference, and cited an unpleasant occasion when she had eaten some bananas while camping... All I could say was, "That seems really unlikely."


#6

I come from the Land of Hairy Men, and my body hair serves as an excellent Early Warning System. I also get nominal welts when I do get bitten


#7

So I guess taking a spoonful of vinegar a day doesn't really work, does it?


#8

Another anecdote: My father was (and I and my son are) a mosquito magnet. Until he went through chemotherapy. They never wanted anything to do with him after that.


#9

I guess I'm just allergic, as I constantly have mosquito bites after spending time outside. My southern born hubby claims it's due to my being born in the north, though.


#10

My husband and I, both O-, have the same experience. Two more anecdotal data points for you.

I note, however, that my mother is also O-, and mosquitoes still seem to strongly prefer me over her. There have been times when she's noticed a cloud of mosquitoes hovering around me, but not around anyone else.

Maybe O- blood is correlated with having some particularly mosquito-attracting skin bacteria, or with stronger allergic reactions to the bites. I'm really curious now.


#11

My father used to be one of those people who could stand in a cloud of mosquitoes and only get a couple of bites, while anyone else would get overwhelmed. He used to say that his blood was too thick for the little buggers.

Then, he had a heart attack (unrelated to the mosquitoes) leading to a triple-bypass, and the now-regular taking of blood-thinning medicine, and now he's as much a target of mosquitoes as anyone else.

Anecdotal as hell, but I've seen the difference first-hand.


#12

i love the anecdotes! i'll add mine: i've always heard that vegetarians don't get bitten as much as meat-eaters. in line with that, i have noticed that i don't get bitten as often as my meat-eating friends.


#13

Can't remember where I picked this up (could well have been BoingBoing) but a fantastic way to treat mosquito and bug bites is to run them under the hottest water you can stand for as long as you can stand it. The heat breaks down the toxins.

No-one knows this. Except you and me.


#14

I think it's mostly that some people don't notice them as much, I am sure I get bitten as often as my kids, but they all get giant painful welts, at most I get a little red itchy spot, but mostly nothing. However, I have noticed that there seem to be fewer mosquitoes in the BWCA then when I was a child, and I have noticed that there are many many more dragon flies, which I believe eat mosquitoes. So Maggie, here is my question, is anyone researching dragonflies and mosquito numbers that you know of? Are there really fewer mosquitoes in the BWCA, or am I full of it?


#15

That'll also work to reduce the itching (temporarily) associated with poison ivy.


#16

I have the same problem with fleas. Good friend of mine a few years back kept loads of cats, and never understood why I would not visit. She got bitten as much as I did, but never had the reaction/itchy/lumpy/nasty stuff. I on the other hand had to stay away or become a lumpy pincushion. Weird.


#17

I'm a pescetarian, but don't get much oportunity to eat fish because I don't particularly care for it cooked (ie - much prefer sushi, but it's not all that affordable).

Again, all anecdote. Let's see if we can get any vegans to chime in...


#18

goddamn mosquitos. i'll always see them in a different light after helping a small crew poison all street sewers to kill eggs and placing carbon-monoxide traps to catch & test the bastards for west nile.

you think your town has a shitload of mosquitos ? i hope they've got eradication programs in place or it would be a million times worse. I don't even want to imagine living in a city (let alone countryside) without these kinds of pesticide programs.

things be evil


#19

I'm also an O-, but I only rarely get mosquito bites. I seem to be the last choice for them.


#20

I spent ten summers working in Northern BC and Alberta right at the peak of bug season. Northern Albertan muskeg (peaty swampy hellplace) is an absolute mosquito nightmare.I've always disliked Deet, and rarely used it even then - showers were hard to come by in the bush, and I hated the idea of absorbing days worth of the stuff into my system. At first they drove me completely insane and gave me horrific itchy welts. At times I and my coworkers looked like John Merrick at the end of a working day (and I am not exaggerating).

Over time I learned to ignore them, and I think through sheer volume my immune system got over whatever reaction it had to their bites. In later years I hardly noticed them unless they were truly outrageous, and the bites have little effect on me.

It's been almost 15 years since I stopped doing that job, and now a bite makes me itchy again - though not much. My anecdotal experience suggests it is possible to develop a tolerance for whatever toxin they use, but it probably takes a lot of bites. I've seen people visiting the country get terrible big welts when locals had little reaction - which further supports a tolerance hypothesis. No idea if I'm right or not, but I'm curious.