Whether you are camping, hiking, or even enjoying an evening in your backyard, we have all experienced the dreaded swarm of mosquitos. I remember as a kid, my brother and I would always compare mosquito bites after a day of hiking with the family. He would always get annoyed that he tended to end the day with a large amount of mosquito bites while I escaped with just a few, even though our parents put the same amount of bug repellent on both of us. To be honest back then I did not really care why it happened, I was just happy to have less bites than him, but now I am curious if it’s true that mosquitos prefer some people over others?
In Are You a Mosquito Magnet on WebMd, Elizabeth Heubeck explains why she thinks this is true. Professor Jerry Butler at the University of Florida reports, “One in 10 people are highly attractive to mosquitos” (WebMd). Researchers have not been able to exactly locate what specifically is the primary type of human that mosquitos target but they do have some research on certain things that could possibly be attractive to mosquitos. One of the known factors is that genetics account for, “85% of our susceptibility to mosquito bites” (WebMd). Butler also states that those with higher concentrations of cholesterol on the surface of their skin, attract more mosquitos. John Edman from the Entomological Society of America reports that research has shown mosquitos are drawn to people whose bodies produce an excess amount of certain acids, including uric acid. The scents of these acids attract the mosquitos.
There are 400 different compounds that people exude and scientists have to examine all of those to determine if certain ones are attractive to mosquitos. The evidence offered in the paragraph above suggests that it is likely mosquitos are attracted to some people over others, but with the large amount of compound still left to examine and the always present option of chance, it is not certain that this is true.