With summer fast approaching, most people's minds are filled with a slew of outdoor activities. Backyard sport, romantic picnics, and beach-side tanning are all marking up our calendars already. But, what's that prickling sensation you feel on your arm?
You try to swat it, but you find its too late, and the itching begins to set in. At this point you may be asking yourself, "Why me? Why of all the people in the world did this mosquito choose me?" Well, this selection process may not be as random as you think. Mosquitos have a system, and this article will show you what attracts mosquitoes, and how to avoid them.
- 1. Bacteria
Mosquitoes respond to the level of bacteria on our skin because they are nosy. Bacteria communicate via chemical signals that relay information about the organism the bacteria are living on. The reception of these signals is called quorum sensing.
Mosquitoes can intercept these messages and use them to identify targets. The Smithsonian Magazine had this to say on the subject:
"Mosquitoes benefit from this hacking by gleaning information about the quality of a blood host and being selective about who they target."
- 2. Carbon Dioxide
Mosquitoes detect and track targets by the carbon dioxide they exhale. The molecules found in our breaths are picked up by specialized receptors in the mosquitoes that help them find their way to prey.
This means that the more carbon dioxide you are exporting, the more blood-suckers you're importing. This means that bigger individuals and people who exercise often are at a higher risk.
- 3. Motion and Heat
Speaking of exercise, it produces several other attractants to mosquitoes than just exhaling. Mosquitoes are equipped with several other mechanics that are sensitive to body heat and humidity levels, which spell bad news when you break a sweat.
A mosquito's eyes are also built to detect movement, meaning they can see you better when you're moving than when you're standing still. Lastly, exercise releases Lactic acid, which mosquitoes will also pick up on and attack.
So what do you do? Sure, you can keep yourself clean, but are you just supposed to stop exercising? Stop Breathing? No. These facts are helpful in telling you when you can expect mosquitoes and why, so that you can prevent mosquito bites before they happen. The #1 recommended way to do this is with:
- Insect Repellent (with DEET)
The list above showcases the mosquito's impressive biological arsenal, but we have an arsenal of our own, namely, that can in your cabinet. DEET insect repellents target the mosquito's receptors and senses to block and confound their usual operation.
Now, most of you are probably already using insect repellent, but it is important to use repellent containing DEET, as it is widely believed to be the most effective in prevention of mosquito bites.
Now that you know what to expect, and how to prevent it, here's to a fun, bite-free, summer.