Beer can make you a mosquito magnet

Summer is the perfect time to be outside and soak in the sun, beer in hand. But that cold, frosty one could be attracting the absolute worst part of summer: mosquitoes.

Research has shown that people who drink even the smallest amount of beer are more likely to be bitten than someone who opted for harder alcohols or non-alcoholic beverages. That’s not to say avoiding beer is going to relieve you from mosquito bites altogether.

Just a single 12-ounce bottle of beer can make you more attractive to the insects, one study found. But even though researchers had suspected this was because drinking increases the amount of ethanol excreted in sweat, or because it increases body temperature, neither of these factors were found to correlate with mosquito landings, making their affinity for drinkers something of a mystery.

The results of a small study of 13 volunteers found that mosquitoes were more likely to land on subjects who had recently guzzled a beer. But blood alcohol tests failed to link alcohol ingestion and mosquito landings, so the jury’s still out on why volunteers with beers got more bites in the study.

Mosquitoes have lots of reasons to love humans. One is that we taste good.

According to Smithsonian, 20 percent of people will still be feasted on by mosquitoes just based on their blood type.  Some mosquitoes will sense blood to be sweeter than others, which explains why you might end your picnic with a hundred bites and your fellow picnic-goers hardly have any. The pests also like Type O blood twice as much as Type A.

Scientists also say a slew of other factors — from blood type, metabolism and pregnancy status to the levels of exercise you do and carbon dioxide you emit — play roles.

Mosquitoes, for instance, can smell lactic acid and other substances in sweat, and go for the higher temperature bodies, Smithsonian reported. Mosquitoes are attracted to high levels of carbon dioxide and can smell the gas from 164 feet away. They hone in on a victim by following a steady output of carbon dioxide. Mosquitoes are adept at figuring out where their target is by following these exhaled trails.

While carbon dioxide is how mosquitoes lock onto you as a target, heat may be how they figure out where to bite you.

Dr. Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, said that before mosquitoes can take a bite they have to find an area of the body where the blood is close to the surface. Common areas include the forehead, wrists, elbows and neck.

However, people who are overheated or who just finished working out will have blood closer to the surface of the skin throughout their body. “They use the heat to very quickly to determine where blood is closest to the surface,” said Day.

If you’re heading to a picnic and looking to avoid becoming a mosquito’s meal, Day recommends avoiding any dark denim or all-black outfits. If you dress in dark colors you stand out against the horizon and mosquitoes can see you, said Day.

Some mosquitoes are visual hunters that search you out by looking for signs of life against the horizon. Movement can also draw the insects in, so hikers on the move should wear plenty of bug-repellent, he added.

A good way to avoid mosquito bites is to wear longer, loose-fitting clothing. The mosquitos don’t want to work that hard for their meals, so they’ll leave you alone and head right for the fool in the tank top and shorts. Also, avoid standing water. Mosquitos love to take a dip just as much as you do.

How to stop mosquitoes from biting

Mosquitoes may be mean, biting machines, but there steps you can take to protect yourself. Aside from wearing lighter colors and avoiding the outdoors at dawn and dusk, the CDC recommends the following tips to prevent bites:

  • Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535. Some oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol products also provide protection.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors and avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn – peak mosquito biting hours.
  • Mosquito-proof your home with screens and regularly remove standing water from birdbaths, gutters, pool covers and pet water dishes.
  • Use fans. The low-tech gadgets can break up carbon dioxide and throw mosquitoes off course. Since the insects are weak flyers, a strong breeze can render them unable to land.


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