Do Mosquitos Prefer Certain People?

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.



6 thoughts on “Do Mosquitos Prefer Certain People?

  1. Rachel M Arndt

    I almost blogged about this too! It is crazy to think some people can sit outside and not get touched by a single bug, while the person beside them practically gets eaten alive. Chance seems to be a huge factor here. It seems like I have some pretty bad luck. (I’m the person who gets eaten alive.)

  2. Casey Jordan Leuenberger

    This was a very interesting blog post! I think that it’s crazy bugs prefer some people over others. We’ve all heard the bugs like you if you have “sweater blood.” Bugs can transfer diseases such as malaria, so are some people more prone to malaria than others in Africa? If we could pinpoint what in people makes bugs more attracted to them, would that help eliminate malaria? More than 40% of the world is susceptible to malaria and it is a serious disease. You can read more on malaria here

  3. Hannah Elizabeth Boothman

    Which traits or characterstics are more desirable by mosquitos?
    In this article I was able to find ten traits that make you more likely to get bites. These include sitting down which makes sense because you are easier to get bit. But what I found interesting is if you have higher cholesteral you are more likely to get bit, as well. I find this weird because how can a mosquito tell if you have high cholesterol?

  4. Michael I Barrett

    Good analysis of the data. I definitely think certain people get special treatment from mosquitos while other people are personally victimized by them. It would be interesting to know if this only applies to mosquitos or all insects. Honestly, this could apply to all animals, but it would be so hard to determine if every animal reacted to humans differently. For now, I’m still not wearing bug repellent… I’ll take my chances.

  5. Emily A Glogowski

    I have had my fair share of mosquito bites over time. I had always just thought it was luck of the draw but its interesting to see there may some other type of reasoning behind this. I would love to see more information about this because each year I get a large amount of bites and maybe they are just attracted to me!

  6. Andrea Marie Linn

    I am a big sufferer from mosquito bites. I get them like crazy and they are huge. My mom would always say, “They must really like you. You have very sweet skin.” Does sweet skin have to do with being more “attractive” to mosquitoes? Maybe there is a way where someone could get a vaccine or take medicine even if they have that gene that makes them more prone to getting bug bites. We know its a pain, but I definitely could see it being preventable.

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