It’s been a long-held, old wives’ tale that mosquitoes are drawn to women, more than men. For ages it has been the romantically-minded man that has spawn the tale that women have a “sweeter taste” to the little buggers and, of course, we’ve believed it.
More recently, scientists have suggested that the increased estrogen, a strong hormonal attractant, in woman may be the cause for the increased unwanted insect attention; however, in 2000, the scientists decided to really put it to the test and stop all the postulating on the subject.
A report in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirmed that gender does play a role in mosquito attraction, but not in the way we had imagined. Men, in actuality, are usually getting the increased number of mosquito bites, but this is not due to hormones or other possible olfactory causes.
Instead, mosquitoes are drawn to those with larger body mass, who give off more heat and carbon dioxide and usually, those are men. One significant exception is pregnant women, who have a larger body mass and give off more carbon dioxide, than the normal woman. Thus, men and pregnant women are more likely to be attacked by mosquitoes.
Another strong attractant for mosquitoes is lactic acid, given off when we sweat. “Mosquitoes can sense these chemicals off the skin from 30 meters away”, says Dr. Bassett from the study.
For those who are at high risk for bites and who react strongly to bites, the doctor recommends insect repellent and taking a non-sedating oral antihistamine, before spending time outdoors.
Naturalist experts recommend the following to prevent bites:
1. Stay in the breeze- they can only fly 8 mph and can easily waft away
2. Create a breeze- a 50 yard dash leaves the swarm lost and confused
3. Choose a high sunny location- they dehydrate easily (don’t forget your water-or you will too)
4. Wear long, loose –fitting garb, in Earth hues, brown or green- not blue (they will mistake you for a flower)
5. Walk slowly and remain calm in a swarm
6. Eat garlic- they think it stinks too
7. Oil your skin, use cedar, orange peel, onion or garlic oil- they don’t like oil on their wings
8. Be out at mid-day- they are active at dawn and dusk
9. Choose a cool sunny low humidity day, over a hot cloudy high humidity day- a favorite of the mosquitoes
Now, some of these recommendations may keep your friends away, as well, so you can always turn to your over-the-counter insect sprays.