Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do you know why mosquitoes bite some people more than others?

Another excerpt from this book i'm reading titled
"Why do men leave the seat up?"

"Mosquitoes are attracted to some people for the same reason that some folks are attracted to bakeries early in the morning: The goods smell delicious.

One theory suggests mosquitoes are picky eaters that choose potential victims based on blood type. Eighty-five percent of humans secrete a chemical marker through their pores that indicates their blood type. In some cases, the marker hits the mosquito the same way the smell of fresh-baked bread hits the human nostrils. Microscopic drops of saliva form around the insect's proboscis, the little devil hits the smorgasbord, and it digs in as soon as it feels safe.

A study conducted in 2004 showed that mosquitoes land on individuals with Type O blood more often than they feast on those with any other blood type. Conversely, Type A appears to be the least popular flavor for mosquitoes. The fortunate 15% of humanity whose pores do not secrete  a blood-type marker suffer the fewer bites; like a roadside diner with a burned-out neon sign, they attract hardly any customers at all.

In 2006, scientists performed a test using a Y-shaped tube. Two individuals stuck a hand in the tube, and mosquitoes that were released into the tube could choose which hand to bite. Scientists collected perspiration from the person who attracted the fewest mosquitoes to study its chemical makeup. Researchers also believe that some people may emit a masking odor that actually repels mosquitoes. By studying the chemicals these lucky people excrete , scientists hope to create a more potent, less irritating insect repellent.

Pregnant women might be particularly interested in such a breakthrough. Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, and pregnant women exhale more carbon dioxide than the average person. Furthermore, a pregnant belly is a bit warmer than a normal belly, which may also appeal to mosquitoes.

Alcohol consumption has also been shown to increase the likelihood of bites. This may be because of a change in the blood's chemical make-up when it is processing a few drinks, and because of the rise in body temperature that comes with getting a "buzz on".

Want to avoid mosquito bites? Stay away from alcohol, don't go outside if you are pregnant, and pray that you are among the lucky 15% of the population that doesn't secrete blood-type markers. If nothing else, hope other s in your party have their neon lights flashing "Type O!"

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