Vampire Proof

or
Why Mozzies Don’t Like Me

We’ve all known it to happen—while camping, or at an open air concert, or just idling beside the lakeside: the mozzie attack that seems to be personally aimed at you while your companions are left bite-free. It happened this week to my daughter who looked daggers at me. “Why don’t they bite you? There’s not even one near you.” And it was true. They swarmed around  her like she was serving best bitter, while me they left fully alone. Now why is that?

Culex pipiens 2007-1.jpg

Culex pipiens (the English Gnat)
image by alvesgasper, taken from wiki

Back at home I Googled the question. Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Some People More Than Others? Here’s what Smithsonian.com has to say.

  • Clothing Colour: Mozzies are particularly attracted to colours that stand out i.e. dark blue, black, and red.

But that wasn’t the answer since both my daughter and I were wearing soft muted colours.

  • Beer: Mozzies will hone in on anyone drinking beer.

But my daughter had fruit juice, and I had cold fruit tea (very refreshing when out hiking)

  • Carbon dioxide: Apparently mosquitoes can smell the CO2 we exhale with every breath. And the larger the person, the more CO2.

In which case the mozzies should have been feasting on me. We’re of different body types. Strip us down to skeletons and she’d be classed as gracile, and me as robust. Add muscle sufficient to move those bones and, even without addition of subcutaneous fat, I’m always going to weigh in heavier than her.

  • Exercise and metabolism: In exerting our muscles we produce a most inviting blend of chemicals that lather our skin and call the mozzies in.

But with my extra weight it should have been me bathed in the inviting sweat. To move that extra weight I needed to work harder. And we had skirted marshes, hastened through townland bright with sun, trudged along a grimy road with traffic kicking up dust, on past fields where rapeseed was being harvested, pushed through an overgrowth of bramble, nettle and bracken on a path less-often used. Now, finally, we had come upon a green-lane, overhung with ancient oaks (at last, out of the sun!). So here we decided to stop for lunch. It was then that the attack happened, leaving me unbitten and my daughter stinging. But it wasn’t that intoxicating mix of chemicals that had invited the mozzies to join in.

  • Pregnancy: In studies, pregnant women were found to be twice as likely to attract mosquitoes . . . because they exhale more CO2 and have a slightly higher body temperature.

No, my daughter isn’t pregnant.

  • Blood type: It seems mosquitoes have a definite preference for blood type O over blood type A.

Both my daughter and I are blood type B (which as far as invites to mozzies are concerned fall somewhere in the middle). Coincidentally, we had both recently given blood. Myself, 2 phials required for blood tests (which had left a massive bruise where the blood had leaked back); my daughter a pint because she’s a blood-donor.

This leaves just two possibilities.

  • Genetics: One person may have a genetic tendency to produce yummy chemicals that mosquitoes just can’t resist, while another genetically produces natural repellents.

But I am not a natural producer of mozzie-repellents. If I were I’d not have suffered their bites in the past (which I most certainly have though not for a while).

  • Skin bacteria: A 2011 study showed that having large amounts of certain types of bacteria makes the skin irresistible.

Well, that’s got to be it. Though I did suggest next time we’re out hiking she might like to use my dr.organic moisturizer. It’s one of the few such products without nasty chemicals that 1: bring me out in a rash 2: induces migraine 3: brings on an asthma attack. Based on Vit E, Aloe Vera, Cocoa Butter, and Shea Butter, it contains about two herb gardens full of plant extracts. Evidently at least one of these is a mozzie repellent! I wonder which one.


 

Of course, it’s possible that different species of mozzies respond to different attractants. In which case, it’s possible none of the above apply!

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About crimsonprose

After years as a multi-colour octopus in entertainment, now chilling and writing
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7 Responses to Vampire Proof

  1. yakinamac says:

    Intrigued by your mention of fruit tea! I heard that drinking green tea puts them off – which sounds unlikely, I admit, but I used to be a veritable banquet for mozzies and the number of bites have definitely diminished since I’ve swapped my PG for the green stuff. (My poor husband seems to be reaping the whirlwind and getting far more himself now that I’m less appetising!) Perhaps the same thing applies to fruit tea? Anyway, enjoy being bite-free!

    • crimsonprose says:

      Yea, perhaps it was the fruit tea (cranberry & raspberry). Some years ago in Bulgaria, the hotel bathrooms being ‘hive’ to mosquitoes, one of the waiters said he wasn’t troubled by them because he swabbed his exposed skin with vinegar (he wasn’t local to the Black Sea coast but from Sophia). I suppose if you’re dealing with food the whiff of vinegar wouldn’t be quite so extreme. For myself . . . well, not exactly eau de roses, is it.

  2. Judy says:

    Well, when I lived in the Philippines I was never bitten by mosquitoes and so I pretty much thought they didn’t like me. So, when I transferred to the University of Miami in my sophomore year of college, one of my classes was Ecology and Systematics. We had a field trip scheduled with two parts, first a visit to a mangrove community and secondly snorkeling in a shallow marine environment on Key Largo. Well both spots on Key Largo. We were warned to wear long pants and long sleeves and bring plenty of repellant. Luckily I did wear long sleeves but I wore sandals with no socks. Low and behold…they LIKE me!! My feet were bitten beyond belief, red with raised bumps everywhere. But, as fate would have it part two snorkeling with its good long soaking in salt water took out all the sting and I was fine. That is definitely one LIKE button I’d rather NOT have hit!!

    • crimsonprose says:

      Apparently feet are a favourite target, being bathed in (to mozzies) deliciously aromatic substances. BTW, though I didn’t add this to the post, I have found to rub the skin with bruised elder leaves an effective repellent against all biting flies (I have a particular problem with horseflies!). Trouble is, finding the elder. An old cottage tradition was to grow an elder tree outside the kitchen door to keep out the flies. And yes, it does work.

    • Brian Bixby says:

      I used to be mosquito-free. Judging from the above list, being an underweight nerd and bookworm who never got any exercise might account for it. Alas, now I have to exercise, and so have to drink beer to consume the calories to work off in the exercise.

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