Do Mosquitoes Like Certain Blood More? Yes - Here's Why
Ever noticed how some people seem to get way more mosquito bites than others? Well, their blood chemistry could be to blame. Scientific research suggests that people with type O blood are most attractive to mosquitoes and, therefore, more likely to be bitten. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that you are safe if you have another blood type.
Why? Because blood type preference is just one of several factors that can determine how mosquitoes pick their targets. Your body temperature, odor, and even the presence of certain bacteria on your skin can all have an impact on whether a mosquito decides you're its next meal. In this guide, we'll dig into answering the question, "Do mosquitoes like certain blood more?" and various other factors behind how mosquitoes find their prey.
Before we dig into the blood-feeding preference of the average mosquito, it's worth taking a moment to understand the basics. By learning more about the behavior of mosquitoes, you can discover the best ways to protect yourself against them.
Biology of Mosquitoes
First, it's important to understand that not all mosquitoes bite. In fact, only female mosquitoes do it. Male mosquitoes are smaller than their female counterparts and have quite bushy antennae. The females, meanwhile, are less hairy and have a sharp needle-like mouth-part (proboscis) jutting out from their heads. That's what they use to pierce the skin of their targets.
The reason they bite is simple: to consume blood. A typical blood meal provides female mosquitoes with essential nutrients and proteins for egg production. This is similar to the reason why bed bugs bite, which you can learn more about in our mosquito bites vs bed bug bites guide. It's all a matter of reproducing and surviving.
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Mosquitoes and Disease Transmission
To bite their prey, female mosquitoes push their proboscis through the top layer of human skin and into a blood vessel. They then feed on blood, secreting saliva in the process that prevents the blood from clotting. That saliva also causes the itchiness of mosquito bites, which can be relieved with the help of an itch patch. Unfortunately, mosquito saliva can also spread many dangerous diseases.
As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), points out, there are numerous mosquito-borne diseases to be wary of, including malaria, yellow fever, dengue, and the West Nile virus. Symptoms of these diseases can vary, and many of them are quite severe, with many people dying as a result of mosquito bites every year.
Blood Type Preference in Mosquitoes
There are four main blood group types, categorized as A, B, AB, and O. They differ in terms of the specific proteins, or blood type antigens, that are found on each red blood cell. People with blood type A, for example, only have the A antigen on each red blood cell. Those with AB have both A and B antigens. Finally, people with blood type O don't have any A or B antigens at all.
In terms of how this all relates to mosquitoes, some evidence suggests that there are more attractive blood types than others. In other words, mosquitoes will be more drawn to human blood of a specific type and more likely to bite people with that blood group. Let's take a closer look at how it all works.
Scientific Studies on Blood Type and Mosquito Attraction
There have been several studies on the subject of blood type antigens and their attractiveness to mosquitoes, going back several decades. One of the oldest studies dates from 1974. It examined a range of possible factors that could impact human attractiveness to mosquitoes, finding that those with human blood type O seemed to be particularly appealing to them.
In 2004, scientists looked at how mosquitoes may be drawn to people with a specific blood type over others. They also examined how people known as "secretors" — those who secrete antigens in saliva or tears — may also attract these insects. The researchers found that mosquitoes tended to land more often on people with type O blood and type O secretors.
A 2019 report, meanwhile, also tried to determine the favorite blood type of mosquitoes. It involved providing mosquitoes with samples of different human blood type groups. Again, the conclusion was clear — type O was the most attractive blood group status of the four samples provided, suggesting that it may be the favorite blood type of the average mosquito.
Blood Type O: A Mosquito Favorite?
From the evidence obtained so far, it seems clear that people with blood type O are prime targets for mosquitoes. However, as to why this is, scientists aren't quite sure. There have only been a limited number of studies into the matter, and the only conclusions we can draw are hypothetical.
It may be that mosquitoes simply prefer something about the unique H-type antigen secreted by people with blood type O. Or perhaps O is their favorite blood type because there's something they like less about the A and B antigens found in other human blood.
All in all, we can't make any definitive conclusions from the evidence available. And many experts argue that blood cell antigens and human blood type groups have no impact on mosquito preferences at all. They say that other factors, like carbon dioxide emissions and lactic acid on the skin, are much more influential in regard to differential mosquito attraction.
Other Factors Influencing Mosquito Attraction
A range of factors can come into play when it comes to mosquito attraction, separating the so-called mosquito magnets from the lucky people who almost never get bit.
Carbon Dioxide Emission
Carbon dioxide is a gas that is present in the air all around us. We also emit carbon dioxide every time we exhale. And mosquitoes are drawn to that. This is because female mosquitoes have receptors on their bodies to detect traces of this gas in the air. They can use that to track down their prey.
Unfortunately, some people emit carbon dioxide in higher quantities than others. Adults emit more than children, for example. Larger people and pregnant women also tend to give off more, making them bigger targets.
Body Heat and Physical Activity
As well as emitting carbon dioxide, human bodies (and breaths) also give off heat. And research shows that mosquitoes will naturally seek out heat sources in search of food. So, people with an elevated core body temperature or who breathe more rapidly, like those who have recently been working out, may be more attractive to the local mosquito populations.
Skin Bacteria and Body Odor
Lots of bacteria live on the skin, but the quantity and diversity of microbes in your skin microbiome can make you more or less attractive to mosquitos. Specifically, scientists say that those with high abundance and low diversity of skin bacteria are among the most attractive.
Natural body odor also plays a part. Certain human skin emanations are more enticing to mosquitos than others. In other words, some people simply smell more tempting, leading to higher rates of mosquito landings than others.
Genetic Factors and Mosquito Attraction
Along with human odor and heat, DNA may also play a part in mosquito bites.
Genetic Predisposition to Mosquito Bites
Some evidence suggests that some people might simply be more attractive to mosquitoes because of their genes. One study, for instance, looked at how mosquitoes reacted to groups of twins, with researchers concluding that DNA could be responsible for about 2/3 of mosquito attraction.
Environmental and Lifestyle Factors
You may not be able to control your DNA, but there are certain lifestyle factors, like the color of your clothes and the foods you eat, which are under your control and can make you less of a target for most mosquito species.
Impact of Clothing and Colors
Researchers don't know exactly why this is, but they have found that mosquitoes are more drawn to dark colors. So, those who wear black are probably more likely to get bit. Opting for lighter colors can help you minimize your chances of mosquito landings.
Again, researchers aren't sure why this is, but they've discovered that mosquitoes are attracted to people who have recently consumed alcohol. This might be something to do with how alcohol can increase bodily temperatures.
A study in 2018 also showed a possible link between eating bananas and increased mosquito attraction, "proving" the old wives' tale. However, it doesn't provide any conclusive evidence as to whether the increased mosquito activity was specifically due to bananas and didn't apply to all individuals. It did, however, reinforce that diet can affect whether you get bit by mosquitoes more often.
Prevention and Protection Strategies
Even if you're one of the unfortunate people who attract mosquitoes more than most, there are steps you can take to keep them at bay.
Effective Mosquito Repellents
There are many insect repellent solutions you can use to deter mosquitos from biting you. They're generally divided into two categories: chemical and natural repellers.
Both can work, but chemical products often come with extra risks and dangers, especially for kids or pets. That's why natural repellents, like NATPAT's mosquito patches for adults and mosquito patches for kids are some of the best and safest to use.
Our handy mosquito stickers use the power of natural essential oils (particularly citronella) to keep mosquitos far away from you. And, even if you do get bit, NATPAT's bug bite patches can ease any itching and drain away toxins from your system in no time.
Behavioral and Environmental Modifications
You can also make lifestyle changes to minimize your odds of dealing with mosquito bites. Wearing lighter clothing, for example, is a good way to start, and adjusting your diet to include less alcohol. Keeping yourself cool with light and breezy clothing or close to an AC or fan may also prove useful.
Myths vs. Facts
There are a lot of myths out there about mosquitos and what attracts them. Let's debunk a few of the most common misconceptions.
Debunking Common Misconceptions
- People with Fairer Skin Get Bit More: Not true. The reason why those with fair skin may assume they get bit more often is because bites show up more on light skin than on dark skin.
- All Mosquitos Have Diseases: Not at all. A lot of mosquitos do indeed carry pests and viruses, but not all of them.
- Size Doesn't Matter for Mosquitoes: Research suggests that size does matter to these pesky pests. Larger people and adults are more likely to get bit.
What the Research Really Says
As shown in the studies cited throughout this guide, the evidence on mosquito attraction is clear. Factors like body temperature, skin bacteria, odor, and genetics all come into play when it comes to calculating how attractive a person is in the eyes of mosquitoes. But even more research is needed to reach definitive conclusions regarding blood and other factors.
Overall, we can't definitively state that those with a certain blood type are guaranteed to get bitten more than everyone else. The studies so far do suggest that if you've got type O blood, you are likely a more appealing target. But there are lots of other factors that come into play, and individuals should be aware of those factors and do what they can, like using NATPAT's mosquito patches, to reduce their risks.
Why do mosquitoes bite some people more?
A range of factors can make someone more likely to be bitten, such as their genes, their size, and their odor.
How can I make my blood less attractive to mosquitoes?
You can't change your blood type (unless in extremely rare and unwelcome circumstances such as leukemia treatment), but you can do other lifestyle-related things, like drinking less and wearing light clothes.
Do mosquitoes bite diabetics?
Yes, mosquitoes will bite people with diabetes.
Is O+ a rare blood group?
No, O+ is one of the most common blood types.