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Why Mosquitoes Bite: Myth vs. Fact

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It’s that dreaded time of year—when mosquitoes make their first annoying appearance after a season of cold, wet, and snow. The fact remains: these pesky insects aren’t going anywhere until we get frost! However, what is it that causes them to gravitate towards certain individuals, leaving their red, itchy bites behind while completely ignoring others? And what can you do to avoid those itchy stings?

From blood type to blood alcohol level to body weight, everyone claims to know what makes humans so tasty to mosquitoes. Read on for the true facts and laughable myths as to why mosquitoes bite…

1. Fact: Lactate in Your Skin

You may have heard that “sweet skin” can attract mosquitoes and cause them to bite you. While “sweet” skin isn’t really the proper scientific term, there is some truth to the fact that certain “sweet” chemicals your body, produced in the skin, can grab the attention of these pesky pests. Mosquitoes are attracted to lactate, a chemical produced in higher quantities when you exercise, though research has shown your body always produces some level of lactate. When you work out, lactate has the important role of giving you energy, among many other chemical processes that occur in the body.

According to the American Mosquito Control Association, mosquitoes can detect chemical signals, like lactic acid, from up to 25- to 35-meters away. So after you exercise, whether it’s a run outside, hitting the gym, or exercising in your own home, you may be more likely to be bothered by mosquitoes compared to someone who hasn’t just worked out. Certain foods may also cause the body to produce more lactic acid (i.e., yogurt and fermented foods like kimchi), making mosquitoes attracted to your “sweet” skin.

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