Those with type O blood, beer consumption, foot odor, and heavy breathing may be seen by a female mosquito as a dream date, according to the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA). (http://www.mosquito.org/faq)
Interestingly, the blood taken by the pest is not a food source for the female adults but a way of providing nourishment for mosquito eggs. Thus males do not seek blood at all, and both sexes feed on planter nectar as their primary energy source.
“Why some people seem to be more attractive than others to mosquitoes is the subject of much repellent — and attractant for traps — research being conducted nationwide,” according to the AMCA. “Carbon dioxide is the most universally recognized mosquito attractant and draws mosquitoes from up to 35 meters. When female mosquitoes sense carbon dioxide, they usually adopt a zigzagging flight path within the plume to locate its source. Once in the general vicinity of a potential host, other cues predominate, including body odors (sweat, lactic acid, etc.) and heat. Odors produced by skin microflora also play a part in inducing the mosquito to land. … People drinking beer have been shown to be more attractive to mosquitoes. Limburger cheese has also been found to be attractive. Scientists have theorized that this may explain the attraction some mosquitoes find for human feet.”
On a very serious note, Zika virus poses a significant threat to pregnant women and their unborn children. Unfortunately, pregnant women seem to be among the groups favored by mosquitoes. Research with mosquito-borne malaria and other studies suggest pregnant women may have a rise in body temperature and exhale more carbon monoxide than they do normally. Both factors can attract mosquitoes so it will be absolutely critical for pregnant women to follow recommendations by the CDC to avoid bites that could threaten the fetus. (http://1.usa.gov/1RzGQi9)
Concerning myths and urban legends, the AMCA says eating bananas does not attract mosquitoes, but wearing perfume does. On the other hand, eating garlic and taking vitamin B12 have been proven in controlled laboratory studies to have no effect on mosquito biting. A 2004 study (http://1.usa.gov/1NMHGGt) found that human blood group O subjects generally attracted more Aedes albopictus mosquitoes than other blood groups (B, AB, and A). However, statistical significance was only established for mosquito preference for O over type A.
Mosquitoes have been around for millions of years, thus the interesting but unproven premise of the dinosaur DNA preserved in the bug in amber in Jurassic Park. The AMCA is understandably being asked why we can’t target mosquitoes for complete eradication, give the various diseases they have spread over the years. The following is its response:
“Mosquitoes fill a variety of niches which nature provides. As such, placing a value on their existence is generally inappropriate. ... Their adaptability has made them extraordinarily successful, with upwards of 2,700 species worldwide. Mosquitoes serve as food sources for a variety of organisms but are not crucial to any predator species. … Given that Nature abhors a vacuum, other species will fill the niches vacated by the mosquitoes after an initial shuffling period of variable length. Be advised, though, that species replacing mosquitoes may be even worse — it’s extremely difficult to predict. Mosquitoes’ ability to adapt to changing environments would make them all but impossible to eradicate.”