Advertisement
Products featured in this Yahoo article are selected by our shopping writers. We will earn a commission from purchases made via links in this article. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

Mosquito bites voted top summer annoyance - why do some people get bitten more?

Mosquito bites in summer. (Getty Images)
Mosquito bites have been voted the top summer annoyance, but why do some people get bitten more than others? (Getty Images)

Mosquito bites can really ruin a holiday. They’re unsightly, take forever to disappear and worst of all, itch like mad.

It's little wonder, therefore, that they have been voted summer's top annoyance.

A new survey, of 2,000 adults, revealed more than a quarter (28%) say that mosquitoes are the most frustrating part of the summer months.

Commissioned by OFF! and conducted by OnePoll ahead of World Mosquito Day on August 20, the study revealed people are still willing to brave the summer heat for picnics (34%), festivals (34%) and camping, however, many “always” or “often” regret their adventures because of insect bites (40%).

The poll also addressed the theory that some people find themselves mosquito magnets more than others with respondents guessing the top factors could include their perfume/after shave (48%), sweat (47%), sunscreen smell (41%) and diet (41%).

But what do the experts say? Why are some more susceptible to pesky bites than others?

Colours and clothing

Man wearing red top itching. (Getty Images)
Don't help mosquitoes to see red. (Getty Images)

One study found that mosquitoes could quite literally see red, with your outfit and skin contributing factors.

Researchers discovered that a common species of mosquito flies towards specific colours, including red orange, black and cyan. But they ignore colours like green, purple, blue and white.

The authors believe these findings help to explain how mosquitoes find their 'victims', since human skin, regardless of overall pigmentation, emits a strong red-orange 'signal' to their eyes.

Read more: What happens to your body when it gets too hot? (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)

"I used to say there are three major cues that attract mosquitoes: your breath, your sweat and the temperature of your skin," senior author of the study, Jeffrey Riffell, said.

"In this study, we found a fourth cue: the colour red, which can not only be found on your clothes, but is also found in everyone’s skin. The shade of your skin doesn’t matter, we are all giving off a strong red signature."

Man and woman running. (Getty Images)
Even just breathing attracts mosquitoes. (Getty Images)

The effect of CO2

The same study found that mosquitoes use odours to help them distinguish what is nearby.

"When they smell specific compounds, like CO2 from our breath, that scent stimulates the eyes to scan for specific colours and other visual patterns, which are associated with a potential host (such as us humans), and head to them," Riffell explained.

While we can't help but emit CO2 when we breathe (which we can't smell ourselves), it could be useful to consider that if we exert more through things like exercise, they could flock to us.

Read more: Hot weather: Why you shouldn't sleep naked - Yahoo Life UK, 3-min read

Odour and scent

Speaking on This Morning last year, Dr Zoe Williams said, “Some people potentially have it down to their natural scent. If you sweat more, we know mosquitoes are more attracted to sweat."

She said they might like the perfumes we wear too, so smelling lovely won't exactly help either.

"Lots of people burn citronella (an essential oil) – bad news – they are not actually proven to be that effective," she added. "But citronella in incense sticks is much more potent so that can be effective."

One study also showed that mosquitos are more likely to bite people who produce more of certain types of acid such as uric acid, which can also trigger the mosquito's sense of smell.

Blood type

While she acknowledged there "are a number of reasons" that make a mosquito bite more likely, Dr Zoe also pointed out the more commonly known cause. "It’s been said that if your blood type is O negative, then you’re more likely to get bitten," she said.

Research shows that about 80% of people secrete specific compounds and antigens through their skin, which gives away your blood type and lures mosquitoes in. The scent of type O seems to be the most attractive, whereas A is thought to draw them in the least.

Pregnant woman on beach. (Getty Images)
Pregnant women tend to be more susceptible to mosquito bites. (Getty Images)

Body temperature

Mosquitoes can detect heat and water vapour when near us. One study found that they move towards sources, or humans, at a specific desired temperature.

Pregnant women in particular have been found to be more susceptible to insect bites, partly due to their higher temperature, and partly because they exhale more carbon dioxide.

How to protect yourself

Bites from mosquitoes often cause small red lumps on your skin which are usually very itchy, while some people may also develop fluid-filled blisters.

Mosquitoes don't cause major harm in the UK, but in some parts of the world they can spread serious illnesses such as malaria.

Get medical help right away if you develop worrying symptoms, such as a high temperature, chills, headaches and feeling sick, after a mosquito bite abroad, the NHS advises.

See its website for more information on preventing insect bites and stings, such as using repellents, here.

Shop top-rated insect repellent buys

Bug Bite Thing | £9.95 from Amazon

Jungle Formula Maximum Insect Repellent Spray with DEET | £7.99 (Was £9.99) from Amazon

Smidge Insect Repellent | £9.45 from Amazon

Repel 100 Insect Repellent | £17.99 (Was £19.99) from Amazon

Incognito Insect Repellent Spray | £9.99 (Was £11.99) from Amazon

Jungle Formula Insect Repellent Spray Pump with DEET | £9 (Was £9.49) from Amazon

Additional reporting SWNS.