9 Reasons Mosquitoes Bite Some People More Than Others

What you eat, drink, and wear can attract mosquitoes

Updated on May 16, 2023
Medically reviewed by Kimberly Brown, MD, MPH, FAAEM
Fact checked by Nick Blackmer

If it seems like mosquitoes bite you more than other people, they very well might. Studies show that around 20% of people are particularly irresistible to these pests.[1]

Mosquitoes may bite you more for various reasons, including your blood type, your clothes, your breathing, or even the bacteria living on your skin.

John Tann / Flickr / CC BY 2.0​​

Mosquito bites come solely from females, who rely on the protein in human blood for egg production. Male mosquitoes survive on nectar for nourishment.

This article discusses why mosquitoes bite some people more than others. It explains what attracts mosquitoes to you and how to get mosquitoes to leave you alone.

Mosquitoes Prefer Certain Blood Types

Interestingly, mosquitoes find some blood types more desirable than others. Research has found that some mosquito species have a preference for:[2]

  • Type O: Asian tiger mosquito, or Aedes albopictus, prefers this blood type.
  • Type AB: This attracts the marsh mosquito, or Anopheles gambiae.

In addition, around 80% of people produce a secretion that signals what blood type they are. Mosquitoes may bite these people more than others, regardless of blood type.[3]

Carbon Dioxide Attracts Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes can sense carbon dioxide from a significant distance. The more you exhale, the more attractive you become.

Larger people exhale more, so they’re more likely to receive bug bites.

Since you exhale carbon dioxide through your nose and mouth, mosquitoes are especially attracted to your head.

Mosquitoes can see humans from a distance of 5 to 15 meters (about 16 to 49 feet), which makes finding you pretty easy, too.[4]

Mosquitoes Seek Body Heat

Female mosquitoes are also attracted to heat and may choose to fly toward people even when there are other sources of heat available.[5]

As such, you may notice that you get bites if you exercise outside, venture out on hot days, or just tend to "run hot."

Mosquitoes Like Sweat

Mosquitoes can sniff out human sweat, and they're attracted to lactic acid, ammonia, and other compounds emitted in it.[6]

This means that you may be more apt to receive a mosquito bite if you're prone to sweating or spend a lot of time outdoors on hot days.

Mosquitoes Prefer Certain Skin Bacteria

Your skin is naturally teeming with microscopic life. These bacteria create a distinct fragrance when mixed with sweat.

Some research has shown that the types and amount of bacteria on a person’s skin can play a role in how many mosquito bites they get.

In one study, researchers divided participants into those who were highly attractive to mosquitoes and those who were not. The first group had a larger community of microbes, but it was less diverse than those who were not as attractive to mosquitoes.[7]

Mosquitoes may be especially drawn to ankles and feet because these areas are especially ripe for bacterial growth.

Mosquitoes also prefer people with significantly more carboxylic acids on their skin. One study found that these fatty acids were highly concentrated on the skin of those who were most attractive to mosquitoes.[8]

Pregnant People Are Mosquito Magnets

It turns out that pregnancy attracts some mosquito species. There hasn’t been a lot of research on this, but a study in Africa in 2000 found that twice as many mosquitoes gravitated towards pregnant people compared to non-pregnant people.

Researchers believe this may happen for a couple of reasons, including:[9]

  • Carbon dioxide: People in late pregnancy exhaled a 21% greater volume of breath than non-pregnant people.
  • Heat: The abdomens of pregnant people were about one degree warmer than their non-pregnant peers.

Beer Drinkers Get More Bug Bites

Who knew mosquitoes had a taste for beer? In one study, researchers found that significantly more mosquitoes flew toward study participants who had drank one liter of beer than those who had a liter of water.[10]

However, the reason for this increase remains unclear. Neither carbon dioxide exhalation nor skin temperature showed any correlation between alcohol consumption and mosquito landings.

Even so, the findings suggest that you may want to take precautions against mosquitoes when drinking alcohol.

Mosquitoes May Be Drawn to Your Diet

Folk wisdom says what you eat may make you a tastier meal for mosquitoes. In particular, eating sweet, salty, spicy, or potassium-rich foods is believed to attract more mosquitoes.

While the research is limited, University of Wisconsin scientists identified one food that fits this phenomenon: bananas. A study published in the journal Insects found eating a banana increases the frequency of contacts with mosquitoes and bug bites.[11]

Darker Clothes Are Easier for Them to Spot

Mosquitoes use their eyes to target victims. Research shows that mosquitoes gravitate more toward green and black surfaces than toward white or grey surfaces, suggesting that it's easier for them to see these colors.[12]

If you tend to get bug bites, it may be because mosquitoes have an easy time seeing you. Opt for softer colors like pastels, beige, or even white instead.

Ways to Get Fewer Mosquito Bites

Mosquito bites are more than just annoying. Mosquitoes are vectors, which are living organisms that can transmit diseases such as Zika virus.[13]

Do what you can to minimize the amount of mosquito bites you get by managing the amount of these insects in your yard and protecting yourself when outdoors.

Keep Mosquitoes Out of Your Yard

Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water. Tips to cut the mosquito population in your yard:

  • Remove items that collect rainwater that you don’t need, like old tires.
  • Empty items that catch rainwater after a storm.
  • Change the water in fountains and bird baths at least once a week.
  • Clean the gutters on the roof to keep water flowing.

How you landscape your yard helps, too. Keep your lawn clipped short, and plant vegetation that repels insects, such as:[14]

  • Lavender
  • Marigold
  • Citronella grass (lemon grass)
  • Catmint
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Sage
  • Allium

Use Insect Repellents

Insect repellants can be an effective way to prevent mosquito bites.

To ensure a product is safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends checking the label for approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The CDC also suggests looking for products that contain the following ingredients:[15]

  • DEET
  • IR3535
  • Picaridin (KBR 3023)

If you want to avoid these chemicals, a number of essential oils can also be used to keep mosquitoes at bay. Oil of lemon eucalyptus has been found to be the most effective natural mosquito repellent.[16] Studies have also shown that citronella can provide a bit of protection.[17]

You may also hear about the following natural mosquito repellants. You can try them, but know that research on their effectiveness is limited.

  • Rose geranium oil
  • Patchouli oil
  • Thyme oil
  • Clove oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Cedar oil
  • Neem oil


Mosquitoes do, indeed, find some people more attractive than others.

Dark clothing, blood type, sweat, carbon dioxide, pregnancy, skin bacteria, and beer consumption are some things researchers have found tend to draw mosquitoes to someone.

You may be able to prevent mosquito bites by heading indoors when you're sweaty, taking steps to keep mosquitoes out of your yard, and using insect repellent.

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