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How Do Mosquitoes Choose Their Victims?

Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many joys of motherhood, but one aspect really bites: Mosquitoes love pregnant women. Studies have suggested that the little bloodsuckers might be more attracted to the higher body temperatures, above average exhalation of carbon dioxide, and higher metabolic rates that expectant mothers exhibit. Those same factors also make people prime mosquito targets right after they exercise.

According to estimates, about 20 percent of the population are particularly attractive to mosquitoes, but because genetic factors are intrinsically involved, there's not a lot you can do about it. Michael Smith, a professor of dermatology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, says even the pregnancy-related factors are just speculation. "All this speculation makes sense, but it's not proven," he said. "Bottom line: We don't know why pregnant women are more popular with mosquitoes, but they appear to be."

More on mosquitoes:

  • Only female mosquitoes go after human blood, which they need in order to produce eggs.

  • Only a few hundred of the 3,500 species of mosquito attack people.

  • If you need to go out when mosquitoes abound, do so in the afternoon, when it's hottest and mosquitoes tend to hide in cool places.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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