Why do mosquitoes bite some people and not others?


(CBS News) – Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance. They can carry serious illnesses. Some people feel they are more prone to getting bit than others. Dr. Jon Oliver, who teaches entomology at the University of Minnesota, explains why that might be.

“One thing scientists have known for a long time is that mosquitoes are attracted to the odor of used gym socks,” Dr. Oliver says. “They are being attracted to that kind of mix of bacteria and fungus that causes foot odor. That’s why mosquitoes often bite people on their feet and ankles.”

Dr. Oliver says mosquitoes can also be drawn to people for genetic reasons. Some people metabolize food in a certain way and emit a certain smell. “So, if you had two perfectly clean people next to each other who just had the same bathing regimen, one of them could definitely still be bitten more than the other,” he says.

So, it’s not in our heads. Dr. Oliver says some people are more prone to getting bitten by mosquitoes.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes, use repellent and wear long pants and sleeves. Dr. Oliver says using scent-free shampoos, soaps, and lotions can also keep the mosquitoes away.

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