Why are some people more prone to mosquito bites?

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MINNEAPOLIS (TSWT) — Amid the beauty and fun of this Minnesota summer, an undesirable experience is also unfolding: mosquito season.

For some, it’s misery. But for others, mosquitoes – which suck human blood to help develop their eggs – are nothing more than an invisible nuisance.

So why are some people more prone to mosquito bites? Ultimately, the answer is a bit stinky, according to Dr. Jon Oliver, who teaches entomology at the University of Minnesota.

“One thing that scientists have known for a long time is that mosquitoes are attracted to the smell of used sports socks,” Oliver said. “They’re attracted to this kind of mixture of bacteria and fungi that cause foot odor, and that’s why mosquitoes often bite people on their feet and ankles, as many people have probably noticed.”

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(credit: TSWT)

Dr Oliver explained that mosquitoes can also be attracted to people for genetic reasons – people who metabolize food in a certain way and emit a certain smell – so it’s not necessarily related to hygiene, but they have a particularly appealing body odor.

“So if you had two perfectly clean people next to each other who have the same, you know, bath regiment, one of them could still definitely be bitten more than the other,” Oliver said.

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He says it really depends from person to person.

“It’s absolutely true that some people are more prone to mosquito bites than others,” he said.

Dr. Oliver says there are ways everyone can make themselves less desirable to mosquitoes. He says there are rumors that things like drinking lemon water helps, but he says repellent with DEET is the best way to avoid bites. It also says to use fragrance-free shampoos, soaps, and lotions.

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