How mosquitoes choose their victims

You can’t sleep because you’ve been scratching and itching from mosquito bites, again! Why do they swarm to slurp your blood every night, but they seem to avoid your roommate?

Why these little vampires need blood

Pesky mosquitos are commonly known as bloodsuckers, but only female mosquitos are the culprits. Mosquitos generally feed on the nectar of flowers, but female mosquitos need blood to breed and lay fertile eggs.

The secret ingredient they’re looking for is protein which is necessary to develop their eggs. The blood is also used to feed young mosquitos.

Different species of mosquito’s feed on human blood than on animal blood.

Love at first bite

There are a few things about humans that make us attractive hosts for mosquitos. First, they’re attracted to the odour of carbon dioxide, a gas that humans and animals exhale. Another clue that a mosquito uses is body heat. They use this along with their vision to spot you.

So, why do some people seem to be mosquito magnets?

Some people have higher concentrations of steroids or cholesterol on the skin’s surface, which attracts mosquitos. These people are more efficient than others at processing the byproducts of cholesterol. This causes remains of the byproducts to stay on their skin’s surface.

Mosquitos also find certain acids attractive, like uric acid, which triggers a mosquito’s sense of smell.

Picky eaters

Although mosquitos have their taste preferences when it comes to blood, it turns out that they could be conditioned to dislike blood that they once enjoyed.

A study by Virginia Tech scientists in America revealed that mosquitos are able to rapidly learn and remember the scent of their victims. This study proved that dopamine, the feel-good hormone, is the key factor. It found that a mosquito’s preference for a certain person’s blood can change. This can happen if they begin to associate it with something unpleasant.

Read  Nelson Mandela dies at 95

For example, if a mosquito keeps trying to feed on your blood and you swat it away continuously or use some sort of repellent, it will be less likely to want you as a host the next time. It now associates the threat of being squashed or swatted with trying to drink your blood.

So that’s one mosquito down, 3 million to go!

There may not be a permanent way to get rid of these annoying bugs, but you can repel them:

1. Light up

Citronella oil is an effective natural mosquito repellent. You can get citronella candles – an easy way to ward off the little pests. Just place a few around your garden or even in your lounge.

2. Spill some oil

Lavender is known for its lovely aroma, and mosquitos aren’t big fans. Add a few drops of lavender to your bedding or a ribbon attached to your window frames to keep them at bay. You can also mix lavender essential oil with two teaspoons of olive oil and dab it on your skin before bed.

3. Go garlic!

Garlic breath repels humans and it seems that it does the trick for mosquitos too. When you eat a meal with garlic, garlic oil is released from your pores. This wards off mosquitos who may be considering your blood for dinner.

4. Plant a repellent

The answer to your mosquito problems may lie in your gardening skills. Rosemary, citronella, lavender and basil plants will help create a barrier from mosquitos; they’re not too fond of the aroma of these plants.