Mind & Body

Mosquitoes Prefer People With Type O Blood

What's your blood type? If you don't know, we can tell you one little critter that does. Researchers at the Institute of Pest Control Technology of Chiba, Japan, discovered that mosquitoes—that blood-sucking, camp-ruining insect—prefer people with type O blood. Talk about the universal donor!

What All the Buzz is About

For a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology in 2004, researchers tested volunteers' blood types and "secretor status"—that is, whether or not they secrete a chemical that signaled what their blood type is, a trait common to about 85 percent of people. Then, they had the volunteers slide their hands into an aquarium buzzing with 35 mosquitoes and recorded the number of mosquitoes that landed on each person. If you're getting itchy just thinking about this experiment, never fear. According to the study, "Mosquitoes landed on the inserted hands and forearms and attempted to bite, but they were unable to feed because their proboscis had been amputated." If there was ever a time we've felt sorry for a mosquito, this would be it.

The results? Mosquitoes landed on "secretors" with type O blood 83 percent of the time, but only landed on those with type A blood 47 percent of the time. That was true even when they added the secretion chemical to the subjects' freshly washed skin. One caveat: although volunteers with type O blood had the highest landing rate, the difference was only statistically significant when it came to type A blood. That means if you have type B or AB blood, you're not necessarily in the clear (but if you're type A, feel free to shout it from the rooftops).

You're Simply Irresistible

According to Smithsonian Magazine, blood type isn't the only factor that comes into play; other elements can attract mosquitoes, too. People who exhale more than most—larger people, generally—expel more carbon dioxide, which attracts the bugs. If you've exercised a lot, you'll have more lactic acid in your muscles and a higher body temperature, which are two more mosquito attractors. Bacteria is also attractive, which is why you're bitten on your trail-dirt-covered ankles more often than on your freshly sanitized hands. Other things that make you more attractive include drinking beer and being pregnant—just don't do both at once.

Written by Mike Epifani June 5, 2017

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