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Why Are Mosquitoes Attracted to Me? 4 Reasons + Tips for Getting Those Skeeters to Pass You By

Turns out mosquitoes really do have a preference for certain people!

You know the scene: You’re outside enjoying a gorgeous sunny day, when suddenly mosquitoes start getting way too close for comfort. Sure, you can swat them away or apply bug spray, but even with these precautions you might leave an outdoor gathering covered in itchy red bites. While you may associate mosquito bites with the dog days of summer, these bloodsucking bandits actually remain active into the fall, especially when it’s still warm or humid out. Read on to learn the truth about whether mosquitoes are more attracted to certain people and get tips about the surprising ways to actually repel the buzzing little menaces.

Why do mosquitoes bite me more?

If you’ve ever stepped inside from a fun barbecue or beach day, only to find yourself itching like mad and whining “Why are mosquitoes attracted to me?” while your friend walks away scot-free, you’ve come to the right place. While there’s not a definitive reason why a mosquito bites you while staying away from your friend, scientists say that a tricky mix of biological and physical factors may play into why some of us get bitten more than others.

Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, told NBC News that 20% of people fall into the category of “high-attractors,” meaning they’re more prone to attracting mosquitoes and getting bitten. If you happen be in this unlucky group, it may have to do with one of the reasons below.

Mosquitoes love blood type O

Contrary to what your mom might have told you when you were a kid, mosquitoes don’t actually bite you because you’re sweet (sorry, mom!). A more likely reason for mosquito bites has to do with blood types. A 2004 study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology found that mosquitoes were significantly more likely to land on people with type O blood (83.3%) compared to people with type A blood (46.5%), while type B blood was somewhere in the middle. Additionally, a 2019 study in the American Journal of Entomology, in which mosquitoes were provided with samples of different blood types in separate feeders (yikes!) confirmed that the pests had a taste for type O blood.

Mosquitoes love secretors

In addition to blood type, whether someone was a secretor was found to be another deciding factor in attractiveness. What the heck is a secretor? The term refers to people who release a chemical through their skin via sweat or saliva that indicates their blood type. It appears secretors are more likely to have a mosquito land on them regardless of blood type. The bad news? Nearly 80% of people are said to be secretors, which means mosquitoes have a lot of opportunities to attack.

Mosquitoes love big people

Chances are, when you’re outside you’re not thinking about how much carbon dioxide you’re emitting. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, are all about the CO2 — in fact, they can sense the compound from up to 164 feet away. CO2 indicates to mosquitoes that there is a living, breathing thing target nearby. Larger people exhale more carbon dioxide, which may explain why adults are more likely to be bitten than children. Pregnant women are also more likely to be bitten, which could be caused by the fact that they breathe out more carbon dioxide than non-pregnant folks (and they’re also warmer, which mosquitoes like). Additionally, lactic acid (produced during exercise), acetone (a chemical you exhale), and estradiol (a byproduct of estrogen being broken down) round out the bouquet of human odors that attract the flying pests. 

Mosquitoes love red, blue & black

You might not think a mosquito knows anything about fashion (and a puffy bite can ruin a cute outfit!) but these bugs are actually on the lookout for certain colors. In addition to following their preferences for certain scents and genetic factors, mosquitoes are also highly visually inclined. NBC News reports that mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors like reds, blues and black — so if you know you’re going to be outside in the heat, you might want to put that red dress back in the closet in favor of one in a lighter color.

What smells repel mosquitoes?

Now that you know some of the qualities that make you a mosquito magnet, here are some easy, scientifically proven ways to keep them from biting you. It turns out you don’t need to cover yourself with DEET (the chemical used in most bug sprays) to ward off the bugs. There are a variety of all-natural ingredients are proven to send mosquitoes packing — and as a bonus, they’re delightful to sniff!


The scent of coconut doesn’t just conjure up an island getaway, it also deters mosquitoes. A small 2023 study in the journal iScience found that mosquitoes were more attracted to people who used fruit- and flower-scented soaps, while coconut-scented soaps deterred the bugs.


You might want to try embracing your boho side with clove essential oil: Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Entomology say it works as well as many commercial bug sprays. Simply mix 2 drops of clove essential oil into 2 tsp. of your favorite unscented lotion and apply it to bite-prone areas like your ankles, wrists and neck. While the warm, sweet scent is pleasant to us, it repels mosquitoes for up to four hours.


Lemon eucalyptus oil is a popular natural mosquito repellant in Australia (where they also charmingly call mosquitoes “mozzies”). The terpenes, or molecules that make up the essential oil, keep mosquitos away, and lemon eucalyptus is said to be more potent and longer-lasting than some of the other essential oils.


Deodorant: It’s not just for your armpits! Believe it or not, a swipe of the stuff can also help you “hide” in plain sight from the bothersome bugs. Before leaving the house, apply antiperspirant or deodorant to your feet. Mosquitos are able to detect odors humans can’t, and they’re highly attracted to the scent of human feet. Luckily, preventing your feet from sweating makes the pesky pests less likely to bite.


Weird but true: A 2015 study in The Journal of Insect Science found that Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume was an effective mosquito repellant. As the study authors explained, floral fragrances, like the one in the mall-favorite perfume, “may provide a masking odor resulting in low mosquito attraction rates.” As you might expect, there’s a caveat: A high concentration of the perfume was used in the study, meaning a lower one might not have the same impact, and the protection lasts for a shorter time than that offered by traditional bug sprays.

No more bites!

Now that you know what qualities make you more prone to bites, you can take precautions to get mosquitoes flying in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof way to totally eliminate the possibility of getting bitten, since genetics play a part in making you attractive to mosquitoes, but there are a number of easy tricks that may keep them away. Next time you head out on a sunny day, wear light colors and put on one of the scents mentioned above, and you just might come back home bite-free!

For more on outsmarting bug bites:

Get Instant Bug Bite Relief With This $10 Gadget

How to Naturally Get Rid of Bugs in Your Yard and Home

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