Well, our start to summer has been a wet one and with it has arrived an army of mozzies. What I’ve always found fascinating is why mozzies find some of us more attractive than others. There’s a belief mosquitos are attracted by the amount of carbon dioxide in our breath, our body temperature, odorant markers related to our blood type, alcohol and pregnancy.
If you’re a beer drinker, consuming just 350ml of beer when you’re enjoying the lovely summer outdoors is likely to make you more attractive to mozzies. The jury is out on why this is the case, however, there’s some belief this may be because of the increase in body temperature and the increase in ethanol emitted in our sweat. So, if you like a beer out on the back deck in mozzie season, you could be in trouble.
Mosquitoes it seems are more likely to target their prey by smelling the carbon dioxide discharged from our breath. It seems the larger we are, the more carbon dioxide we exhale, and the more likely mosquitoes are going to be attracted to us. Interestingly, it’s believed mosquitoes can sense carbon dioxide from up to 50 metres away and to detect this carbon dioxide, mosquitoes apparently use an organ known as a maxillary palp. There has been some research (1) that has shown mosquitoes prefer certain blood types. It’s known mosquitoes will bite us to collect the proteins from our blood and one particular study conducted in a controlled setting reported those with Type O blood have hit the jackpot. If you’re a Type O blood type, according to this study you’re twice as likely to be targeted by mosquitoes than a Type A blood type. If you’re a Type B blood type your attractiveness to the mosquitoes falls in between Type O and Type A. Another fascinating piece of information is around 85% of us secrete through our skin, a chemical signal which will indicate to the mosquito what particular blood type we may be. However, 15% of us won’t secrete this chemical through our skin and are therefore the lucky ones who are less likely to attract the mosquitoes.
If you’re outside undertaking vigorous exercise, you’re also more likely to attract mosquitoes. Obviously, our body temperature is going to rise which mozzies love however it’s also because mosquitoes are more attracted to ammonia, lactic acid, uric acid, and other substances which are sweated out when we exercise.
In 2011 there was a study (2) that indicated that when we have substantial amounts of bacteria of a limited type of bacteria on our skin, this makes our skin more tempting to mosquitoes. We all have bacteria on our skin however it was interesting to note having masses of bacteria that covered a greater area of our skin made our skin less appealing. There is a thought that because our feet and ankles naturally have more vigorous bacteria colonies, we are more likely to find mozzies attacking those areas.
Natural Insect Repellent
When it comes to insect repellent, I’m sure we would all prefer to use something natural. My preference is a spray containing Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus which is the only natural ingredient recommended by the Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation as a natural insect repellent. A study (3) published in the Journal of Insect Science in 2015 found plant-based sprays containing oil of lemon eucalyptus were the only DEET-free formulas to deliver strong and long-lasting results. It is important to note there is a difference between the oil of lemon eucalyptus and lemon eucalyptus essential oil. Due to the difference in processing, they have quite different chemical compositions and efficacy. The essential oil does not have the effectiveness of the oil of lemon eucalyptus.
For more information, call down to Go Vita Batemans Bay at 5 North St, Batemans Bay or phone the store on 0244729737. Don’t forget to tune into Bev on 2EC every Wednesday at 12.45 pm.
(1) ncbi.nim.nih.gov JMed Entomol 2004 Jul;4(4):796-9