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Do mosquitoes bite people with 'sweet' blood more often?

By Shanna Grove/WZZM-TV • Sep 16, 2018 at 12:00 PM

ALLENDALE — Mosquitoes are pesky, potentially dangerous and there’s more of them than in years past.

And you might be attracting mosquitoes without even knowing it.

When someone tends to get bit more than others, we often say their blood tastes sweeter to the mosquitoes.

We spoke with James Dunn, an entomologist and GVSU biology professor.

“There’s four times as many mosquitoes right now than there were this time last year,” Dunn said.

The recent weather conditions are responsible for the increase in mosquitoes.

“A lot of rainfall we had in August,” Dunn said. "It's been warm, so when you get warm weather you get a lot of standing water, you get a lot of mosquitoes.”

You could be a mosquito magnet, and not even know it.

“They say about 20 percent of people attract more mosquitoes than other people,” Dunn said.

The following five things make mosquitoes more attracted to you:

1. Working out

“If you exercise and you sweat, they’re attracted to the heat signature that's coming off your body and they’re also attracted to the CO2 that you're breathing out,” Dunn said.

2. Wearing dark clothes

“Wear light-colored clothing, they are attracted to darker-colored clothing,” Dunn said.

3. Smelling sweet

“Mosquitoes also feed on nectar, or flowers, so if you smell fruity and you smell sweet, yeah, they’re attracted to you,” Dunn said.

4. Drinking beer

“There’s actually some scientific evidence that people that drink a beer get attracted to more than somebody that’s not drinking,” Dunn said.

5. Being pregnant

“Pregnant women are more attractive to mosquitoes, and they think it’s because their body temperatures could be warmer,” Dunn said.

Is the taste of blood also to blame?

“Sweet blood, there’s no such thing, that’s a total myth,” Dunn said. “... But there's certainly genetics and body chemistry involved,. It’s the smell of your body and the CO2 that you breathe out, and the heat signature that comes off your body.”

Mosquitoes are attracted to CO2 because it’s an easy way for them to find a living thing. Only female mosquitoes bite, and they use the protein in your blood to produce eggs.

Dunn said with the recent cases of West Nile, there is cause for concern. He made the following recommendations:

— Wear repellant with DEET.

— Cover up with long sleeves and socks (mosquitoes are attracted to the smell of your feet).

— Don't go outside at dawn and dusk.

— Avoid shady, wooded areas and standing water.

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