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YARNLADY's avatar

Are some people more susceptible to insect bites than others?

Asked by YARNLADY (41605points) December 19th, 2011

Rick Vetter claims spiders rarely bite, and he has never been bitten dispite years of spider research.

I have been bitten by spiders and several other insects throughout my life. My grandsons come in the house covered with insect bites in the summer. Are we more susceptible?

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14 Answers

MilkyWay's avatar

Yes, it depends on your blood type. Just as humans prefer some food over the other, for example one may like Edam cheese more than Cheddar, insects also have preferances. A mosquito for example, can tell what blood type a person is from a 100 feet away.
“How do they find us?
Scent, Sight and Heat
Mosquitoes locate bloodhosts by scent, sight and heat. From 100 feet away (30 meters) mosquitoes can smell your scent, especially the carbon dioxide (CO2) you exhale. Biting_ flies are even better; they can smell their prey from 300 feet (100 meters) away. Because CO2 is present in the atmosphere (plants take in CO2 and give off oxygen), mosquitoes respond to higher-than-normal concentrations, especially when the CO2 is mixed with host-odor. They follow your scent upwind, and can see you at a distance of about 30 feet (10 meters).”
Extract from here.

•Chemical sensors – mosquitoes can sense carbon dioxide and lactic acid up to 100 feet (36 meters) away. Mammals and birds gives off these gases as part of their normal breathing. Certain chemicals in sweat also seem to attract mosquitoes (people who don’t sweat much don’t get nearly as many mosquito bites).
•Visual sensors – if you are wearing clothing that contrasts with the background, and especially if you move while wearing that clothing, mosquitoes can see you and zero in on you. It’s a good bet that anything moving is “alive”, and therefore full of blood, so this is a good strategy.
•Heat sensors – Mosquitoes can detect heat, so they can find warm-blooded mammals and birds very easily once they get close enough.
Extract from here

marinelife's avatar

Great question. I had always speculated this was the case. Good to read the evidence.


“Mosquitoes do exhibit blood-sucking preferences, say the experts. “One in 10 people are highly attractive to mosquitoes,” reports Jerry Butler, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Florida. But it’s not dinner they’re sucking out of you. Female mosquitoes—males do not bite people—need human blood to develop fertile eggs. And apparently, not just anyone’s will do.”

”“People with high concentrations of steroids or cholesterol on their skin surface attract mosquitoes,” Butler tells WebMD. That doesn’t necessarily mean that mosquitoes prey on people with higher overall levels of cholesterol, Butler explains. These people simply may be more efficient at processing cholesterol, the byproducts of which remain on the skin’s surface.

Mosquitoes also target people who produce excess amounts of certain acids, such as uric acid, explains entomologist John Edman, PhD, spokesman for the Entomological Society of America. These substances can trigger mosquitoes’ sense of smell, luring them to land on unsuspecting victims.

But the process of attraction begins long before the landing. Mosquitoes can smell their dinner from an impressive distance of up to 50 meters, explains Edman. This doesn’t bode well for people who emit large quantities of carbon dioxide.

“Any type of carbon dioxide is attractive, even over a long distance,” Conlon says. Larger people tend to give off more carbon dioxide, which is why mosquitoes typically prefer munching on adults to small children. Pregnant women are also at increased risk, as they produce a greater-than-normal amount of exhaled carbon dioxide. Movement and heat also attract mosquitoes.”

Web MD

prioritymail's avatar

I have more experience with mosquitoes. Ten people standing around a campsite, and one gets massacred while another doesn’t get noticeably bitten at all. Sure there could be a number of factors at work there, but it does make a strong case for differing susceptibility among people.

gailcalled's avatar

I noticed this phenomenon during June in the woods in Lake Placid. I was so badly bitten by black flies that i had to wear a net (really very fetching). My then husband was able to wander around with almost no bites.

JLeslie's avatar

The mosquitoes love me. I do have high cholesterol, so that is interesting, but so do other family members of mine and they do not get eaten alive like I do. Spiders get me too, and bees. I pulled the flowering plants out of my backyard when we moved into this house so fewer bees would be likely to visit. They literally just come to me. I am miserable that this house does not have a screened in back patio, I will never make that mistake again. I feel imprisoned in my house.

I am pretty good at avoiding tons of bites, I take all the typical precautions now. Still, it’s impossible to avoid mosquitos completely. Someone pretty much every year warns me West Nile is around when they see me spraying on some repellent, or dressed in long trousers and long sleeves on a hot evening, and ask me why I am dressed so warm. I heard once West Nile is like chicken pox, you get it once and you have immunity, I hope that is true. I figure I’ve had, had a mild case or no symptoms at all, and am immune, so I don’t worry about it. Someone I know died from it last summer.

Judi's avatar

I think some of us are just more delicious than others.

Sunny2's avatar

I count mosquitoes as among those who love me. The feelings are NOT reciprocated.

augustlan's avatar

One of my girls gets bitten constantly, while the others and I rarely ever get a nibble. I never understood why, but it’s very clear that some people are more susceptible. Interesting.


@marinelife, that is very interesting information you gave.

I am highly attractive to mosquitoes. They come at me like magnets to steel. Argh!

On the other hand, they rarely go after my wife or my children. I’ve always wondered why they found me appetizing. Now I know!

Bellatrix's avatar

Mozzies love me. When I first came here I looked like I had the plague for a while. I had huge bites all over my legs and arms. I had to very quickly learn to douse myself in bug spray. They don’t seem to bother me so much so perhaps something has changed in my blood?

shrubbery's avatar

The thing about mosquitos going for adults instead of children is interesting because I used to get bitten heaps when I was younger, like an obscene amount, I’d have to cover my legs and arms in calamine lotion to get any relief, and I was really the only one in the family that it happened to when we went on outings with the parents and grandparents and stuff, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve been bitten less and less each summer. There is also a myth that if you eat a lot of bananas they will be more attracted to you, but I am allergic to bananas in large amounts so I doubt that’s true.

JilltheTooth's avatar

My family and friends love to be around me in the summer. I can be covered with whatever is the repellent du jour, and still be almost carried away while they go unbitten if I am near. I consistently rate 5 stars in the Buggy Zagat Restaurant guide. Now with the internet, they can multi-text each other on their teeny-tiny phones and have a flash-mob dining event on me.

This is why I love winter.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Mosquitos found me to be the tastiest kid on the pier when I was younger. I heard that taking vitamin B would make me less tasty, but I never tried it. As I got older, I became much less tasty, and now mosquitos don’t eat me at all. I wonder why? As far as blood type, I am plain old O pos. I used to be anemic, but I am not anymore. I am not a warm person; I am usually feeling cold and hardly sweat at all. I have always had low blood pressure. You would think a plump, sweaty-hot person with high blood volume would be more appetizing to them.

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