This Is Why Some People Get So Many Mosquito Bites
You aren't imagining it. Here's what really attracts the little biters—and how best to avoid becoming their next meal.
Your body chemistry is irresistible
First, a little entomology fact: Only female mosquitoes bite, when they're looking for the protein (from blood) necessary to lay eggs. The rest of the time, mosquitoes feed off of sugar from plants, says Paul Breslin, PhD, a professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University and a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. "So, while they love sugar, that doesn't mean mosquitoes are attracted to people who have 'sweet' blood. Rather, they let their senses guide them; and, some people are smellier than others," says Breslin. "It's similar to if you were to walk into a kitchen after someone bakes an apple pie—you'd be drawn to the smell." Your aroma comes from a variety of places, like your breath (this isn't halitosis, or bad breath, though—different aspects of metabolism, such as blood-sugar levels, can affect the scent profile of your exhale) and/or the bacteria on your skin, which differs for everyone. Even your genes may affect your odor.
Unfortunately, your own unique smell stamp isn't something you can really change. Trying to mask your odor with perfumes or body lotions doesn't generally help—floral scents tend to draw the pesky bugs in even more—but these is one surprising exception: this Victoria's Secret fragrance. Dousing yourself in it may repel mosquitoes effectively for up to two hours, according to a 2016 study in the Journal of Insect Science.
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.