Don’t worry – it’s not personal. Mosquitoes are attracted to their prey through a process called chemotaxis, which is basically the biological process of moving toward a chemical. Mosquitoes are attracted to humans by biochemistry, and not by any particular physical characteristic.
The two major chemicals produced by the body that seem to be most attractive to mosquitoes are uric acid and cholesterol. If you naturally process either or both of these chemicals and excrete them through your skin, you’ll be more attractive as a mosquito meal than your neighbor. Northern Europeans, for example, exhibit these traits more than other ethnic groups. However, if you’re in an area where there are lots of mosquitoes or where mosquitoes are swarming, your attractiveness to mosquitoes may be a moot point, as the insects will be seeking out any possible meal.
Fortunately, if you do seem to get more than your share of mosquito bites, there are several things you can do to avoid them.
First, you should do whatever you can to keep your property free from mosquitoes. One of the most important things you can do is to eliminate any sources of standing water, no matter how small. Even the water splashed about outside your pet’s watering dish can be enough to incubate mosquito eggs and larvae. If there are community sources of standing water, such as ditches, in your area, talk with officials in your community about corrective measures.
Second, you should avoid being outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are more active. Keep as much of your skin covered as possible when you are outside.
Third, you may want to consider the use of repellents. Most repellents include either DEET – the most common repellent – lemon eucalyptus oil or picaridin. These products are available in various forms, including lotions and sprays. The chemical permethrin can also be used on surfaces such as tents and hats, but can’t be used on the skin.
Whenever you use a repellent, remember these cautions:
Read and follow label instructions carefully. Don’t exceed the recommended application amounts or frequency.
Don’t cover the areas of skin that you’ve applied repellent to.
Don’t apply repellents to broken skin.
To apply repellent to your face, apply the repellent first to your hands and then rub it on your face. Never spray repellent directly onto your face.
When you return indoors, bathe completely or clean any treated areas of skin with soap and water. If repellent has been applied to your clothing, wash them thoroughly before wearing them again.
Only use products for children that are labeled as being safe for children. Children should be protected by clothing if they’re outdoors. In addition, lemon eucalyptus oil specifically isn’t appropriate for use on children under three years old, and generally, there are no safe repellents for children under one year old.
If you notice any kind of reaction to a repellent, including a rash or itching, immediately wash the repellent off using soap and water and call your local poison control center.