web analytics

What makes you so magnetic to this blood-sucking pest.

 

Still waters, standing pots, and messy clutters are really attractive to them. So are you.

IMG_7514

For those of you who’s had trouble sleeping, it may be for reasons similar to my case. In the past few months I’ve been doing quite well, as I can’t recall a night I’ve spent going sleepless like I did so many times last year. A large part of my insomnia stemmed from anxieties and my overthinking tendencies. Thankfully I’m all better these days.

The only sleeping problem? M-O-S-Q-U-I-T-O-E-S.

Let me tell you: I FRIGGIN’ HATE THEM.

I usually use the word ‘hate’ sparingly because it’s the opposite of love. Love is intense, so you can imagine how much hatred I have inside for this blood-sucking pest, especially their sound. Right whenever I’m about to doze off, they whine in my ears. It can happen 3-4 times a night. At best, I fell off to sleep every 20 minutes, and then the buzzing sound would wake me up again.

I’ve went for about 3 weeks asking my helpers to spray the room EVERY SINGLE DAY during the times of the day I’m not at home. I’ve tidied up my room (and I admit, it was a very messy room … ’cause it works for me), I’ve asked anyone who comes into my room to come in and close the door immediately, and I’ve closed the windows in my room as air-tight as I can.

IMG_7696

IMG_7698

Nothing worked.

I’ve been in Jakarta for 2 years, and I’ve never had as much trouble with mosquitoes as I do now. What happened?

Well, here I’m to analyze the problem to end this once and for all.

 
 

This means war.

I’m done with the constant itch and spending days when my mood moves like rockets and my brain functions like Pentium I. As Sun Tzu once said, keep our friends close, but our enemies closer.

Before I lay out the tactics I’m using (which I’ll have a whole post dedicated to them later), let’s establish my strategy here: Whenever possible, don’t kill. It’s manual labor on my part. I’d rather them kill themselves than me spending my time and energy bothering to kill them.

So far, I’m not doing well with conventional traps and repellants, so I’m still experimenting with alternative methods. Stay tuned for the good stuff I’m gonna be sharing in the future post. But for now, let’s get to know this insect better and discover how you can slowly torture them (yup, I’m serious when I said hate).

 

Strategy without tactics is the slowest way to victory, and tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. (Sun Tzu)

 

 
 

Know thy enemy

Before banishing them for all our sakes, let’s look at the facts here:

 

  • Mosquitoes are the deadliest animal on earth1.

I used to think sharks do better at killing humans than any other animal do, but I was wrong. More deaths are associated with these tiny pests than any other animal. Think dengue, yellow fever, malaria, West Nile, and various types of brain inflammation. Mosquitoes carry these infectious agents wherever they go, and besides stealing your juicy blood, they poop deadly viruses into your bloodstream.

  • They love your blood more than they love themselves. 

They can consume three times their body weight (normally 2 to 2.5 mg) in blood. This is why when you slap them after they’ve bitten you, you see a much bigger volume of blood than its size. Take that.

  • They’re lousy fliers.

You would think their lightweight bodies enable them to fly at great speed. In truth, they’re the slowpokes in the insect family – only 1 to 1.5 miles per hour!!2

  • They have lousy eyesight.

Their compound eyes are separated by big blind spots in their spherical arrangement, so when you’re 10 meters away from it or more, it can’t tell whether you’re a big tree or a grown human.

  • But they can detect you from 75 feet (about 23 meters) away.

As with other animals with poor eyesight, mosquitoes smell like a hound. It’s their olfactory systems they mainly work with (other than sight and heat) to locate you.

  • Only female mosquitoes bite.

The fiercest ones are those who are looking to lay eggs, which they can lay anywhere up to 300 at once. In order to do that, she’s gotta suck all the nutrients out of your blood for egg production. Males just feed on plant nectar.

  • They’re much more active during the full moon.

moon_phases_diagram

And that’s up to a 500% increase3. That’s a cue for you to keep yourself on your toes during the full moon phase … as you would with your menstrual cycle.

  • Male mosquitoes seek out their potential mates by catching the sound of their wings.

Turns out those buzzing sounds in my ears are mostly just the girls flirting with the guys. The girliest girls can beat their wings up to 500 times per second, and the males generally pick the woman that beats at the highest frequency as their mates.

  • They’re not a fan of cold temp.

Because mosquitoes are cold-blooded animals, they thrive on higher temps. They love it when it’s above 27 degrees C (80 degrees F), and they hibernate when the weather falls to a steady 10 degrees C (50 degrees F). Some females dig holes to stay warm and wait till summer comes to lay their eggs. Others lay them in freezing water, and when the temp goes up, they hatch.

 

Now that we’ve got them right, the next question is, what is it about us that makes them tick? Let’s look at all the things about you that she finds irresistible:

 
 

Know thyself

1. Carbon dioxide

Even though genetics play a big (up to 85%!4 ) part of who mosquitoes choose, it doesn’t stop the rest of us from falling prey to them. This is because all of us breathe out CO2, the primary lure of mosquitoes5 (scientists even have a name for the CO2-loving bug’s CO2 receptor neuron – the cpA), and the larger the quantity you emit CO2 over others, the more mosquitoes are going to horde around you, particularly areas around your nose and your mouth. Unlike them, we can’t help but be warm-blooded and have a heart, you see (Yeap … I seriously hate them!!).

2. Heat

This goes hand in hand with those who emit higher CO2 – mozzies are alerted to your presence because your body is producing more heat over your friends. So you hot people (pun intended) and those of you running with rapid metabolism and/or suffering from hypoventilation … you might just be the mosquito magnets among your group of friends.

3. Dark colors

When in doubt, go left.

Not that they’re attracted to dark clothing per se, it’s just that with their poor vision, it’s easier to spot a moving target when there’s a stark contrast between your skin color and your clothing. Another reason why it’s a better idea to opt for light-colored clothing is because dark colors retain more heat than lighter hues, and you know how much those cold-blooded bugs LOVE heat.

4. Men

Those girls – they’re trying to steal the good men from us. This is mostly because men are larger than women, which translates to greater CO2 emission and higher body temp.6 Our larger frame is also why mosquitoes prefer adults over children, as well as those with higher BMI (thus more body mass) than those with lower BMI.

5. Pregnant women

As with how men are attractive because they’re the larger sex, so are pregnant women because of bigger surface area (more heat, more CO2). In a 2000 study, researchers found that pregnant ladies attracted twice as many mosquitoes as nonpregnant ladies do.

5. Lactic acid

Here’s a fact: You produce a lot of compounds from your skin, some of which you can’t smell yourself, but mosquitoes can. For years, scientists have taken the human odor and isolated its compounds to identify which ones the bugs find particularly attractive, and up till now they’re just scratching the surface (it’s difficult to conduct studies on one compound … let alone millions of it!). One of which that’s consistently shown to attract mosquitoes (and one of the few that’s always present on our skin) is lactic acid. You know, the acid that helps you fight aging as well as the one that gives us more energy when we’re feeling the burn. It’s difficult to swallow this fact, but you don’t have to throw away your AHA- containing products … just remember to clean up immediately after intense activity … and stay tuned for my next post.

6. Other acids, like uric acid

Here’s another bummer: Uric acid, glycolic acid, citrus acids, and other acids that are potent antioxidants for a youthful skin are also attractive to mosquitoes. But again, this doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on your anti-aging products. You see, youngsters have skins that are more concentrated with uric acid than older people7. However, you don’t want them plenty in your bloodstream: A higher concentration of it is a better predictor of your risk of death from a heart disease than high cholesterol8. So keep using AHA Concentrate and this glycolactic mask for the extra plump, but take the necessary steps to reduce the acidity levels internally.

7. People who eat a lot of sugary foods

No – it’s not because of your “sweet blood”. A big reason why you may have too much uric acid in your blood is because of fructose (yes, high-fructose corn syrup is a big no-no). While fructose is ever-present in most fruits, too much of it spikes up insulin (hormone that makes you sugar-sensitive), raises overall blood sugars and uric acid levels, causes inflammation, acne, eczema, rosacea, and just ages you all over, inside-out. This is why I never juice my fruits and veggies even though it’s a trendy thing right now – you lose a lot of the produce’s nutrients in the process, and all you get is a concentrated amount of fructose and a damn lot of uric acid in your bloodstream. Manage your insulin-leptin balance (leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full), and you should be good to go.

8. People who eat a lot of potassium

IMG_7695

A potassium-rich diet may be healthy for you (they’re plenty in fruits and veggies), but it also makes you much more attractive to the blood-sucking bugs, mainly because your body produces more lactic acid out of it. As a wellness advocate I won’t want you to eat less of the good stuff, but it’s good to know that some of the most nutritious foods that are low on the potassium scale include apples, blueberries, cucumbers, cabbage, and green peppers. Have your bananas, potatoes, and dried fruits only once in a while if you’re trying to make yourself less attractive to mosquitoes (sorry, minions). But otherwise, this isn’t a license to go high sodium!

9. People who eat a lot of salty foods

This means chips, crackers, canned goods and other conventional junk foods. Just as too much potassium causes you to produce more lactic acid, the other end of the scale is true: High-sodium foods gives off more lactic acid, and therefore make you especially magnetic to mosquitoes. Plus, these foods tend to contain high saturated and trans fats, which spikes your cholesterol levels over time. Just as it’s good to balance your hormones, it’s also unattractive for mosquitoes when your pH levels are balanced. Your pH is controlled by the amount of potassium and sodium running in your body.

10. Cholesterol and other steroids

This isn’t necessarily people with high cholesterol – it’s just a matter of how good your skin cells break down cholesterol to maintain its functions. The higher concentrations of cholesterol present on the surface, the more attractive you are to mosquitoes.

11. Sweaty people

For years I’ve been wondering why I’ve never gotten a single mosquito bite while I was in the States, and why the Southeast Asian region is swarmed with endless mosquitoes. Turns out this is because they love areas with high humidity levels (I’m writing from Indonesia here), where there’s plenty of standing water for them to reproduce. Sweaty people, like those trained athletes that has more sweat glands than the rest of us do, make them particularly attractive to mosquitoes. Also, when you sweat, you produce more lactic acid, uric acid, and bacteria. Going it hard just gets the mosquitoes more excited about you.

12. People who smell good

IMG_7710
None of these before bed.

Mosquitoes really love your No. 5, as well as other perfumed goods and scented lotions. For one, female mozzies feed on flower and plant nectars when they’re not looking to lay eggs, just as the males do, so floral scents like Marc Jacobs Daisy and Guerlain’s My Insolence are particularly attractive to them.

13. Body odor

The more you stink, the more mosquitoes love you. What makes you stink is a combo of sweat and bacteria, so you can’t really get away with skipping the shower by just spraying perfumes and deodorants on yourself (the bacterias are still going to be there – might even build up). This is why mosquitoes love old sweat more than fresh sweat. So use yo’ soap.

14. Beer lovers

Bad news guys: Downing a single 12-oz beer bottle makes you so much more attractive to the lady bugs than before9. Researchers suspect this is because you excrete more ethanol from your skin and your body temp rise, just as you would with alcohol consumption in general.

15. People with blood type O

blood-type-personality-cartoon-1
I’m a B. Which type are you?

Universal donors, you’re most likely to donate your blood to mosquitoes. A 2004 study found that this is the order of the most appetizing bloods, according to mosquitoes: 1) O, 2) B, and 3) A. Also, your genetic makeup determines whether you secrete the odor that lets mozzies know what blood type you have, and if you’re a blood type O and you have that odor, you’re doubling the chances of having more bugs landing on you. There’s little to be done in this case …

Otherwise, now you know the truth behind why those nasty ladies choose to suck you. Basically, just being human alone is a good summary as to why mosquitoes want you above other animals – we just stink more.

In the post to come, I’ll share the traps and the repellants that’s worked for me, and hope fully it’ll help you fight the mozzies once and for all so you can finally enjoy a long, uninterrupted sleep.

 
 
 
 
 


Stace

Follow on Bloglovin

 
 

via MoonConnection.comBeyond Hallyu

 Footnote(s):

  1. The Deadliest Animal In The World [Bill Gates’s Notes] []
  2. Why Are Mosquitoes So Bloody Hard To Swat? [Slate] []
  3. The Effect of Moonlight On The Flight Activity of Mosquitoes. [Ecological Society of America, 1964, Ecology] []
  4. Mosquito Magnets: Who/What Attracts Mosquitoes? [WebMD] []
  5. Scientists Described How Mosquitoes Are Attracted To Humans [Phys.org] []
  6. Mosquitoes Are Attracted To Women More Than Men: Really? [NYTimes] []
  7. Age-Dependent Change Of Uric Acid Level In The Dermis Using Cutaneous Microdialysis. [Gerontology, 2005] []
  8. Serum Uric Acid Is An Independent Predictor Of All-Cause Mortality In Patients At High Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease: A Preventive Cardiology Information System Database Cohort Study. [Arthritis Rheumatology, 2008] []
  9. Alcohol Ingestion Stimulates Mosquito Attraction. [Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 2002] []
Tagged , , ,

Leave a reply

Scroll Up
%d bloggers like this: