If I’m outside during the summer with a bunch of , I’ll end up with a dozen mosquito bites while my won’t get any. I get bitten just being outside for a few minutes, even in the city! Then the bites swell up and stay red (and itchy) for days. Why do mosquitoes love me? How can I avoid getting bitten in the first place, and what can I do to make the itch go away when the mosquitoes do get me?
- Sweet Blood

2004_07_askkmosquito.jpgWhile modern medicine has given us definitive answers to so many perplexing questions, a number of dilemmas that make their way to Ask Gothamist seem to defy the scientific community. Why are certain people plagued by dark circles under the eyes or mosquito bites more so than others? Conclusive evidence seems to be out on these important matters, but theories abound.

In an ABC news special report, Professor Andrew Spielman (“one of the world's foremost experts on mosquitoes”) says that the precise reasons some humans are preferred mosquito meals are unknown, "but various research has shown that skin temperature, contrasts of color, lactic acid, and other conditions make a difference." Jerry Butler, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Florida, tells WebMD that "people with high concentrations of steroids or cholesterol on their skin surface attract mosquitoes." Other factors include how much a person sweats, how much uric and lactic acid he or she produces, how much the person is moving around, foot odor, and ovulation. Oh, and apparently mosquitoes, like gentlemen, prefer blondes -- it's because of the contrast of their light hair with the dark sky in the evening, when mosquitoes are most apt to be out searching for their next meal.

There are a few things you can do to decrease your biteability factor (besides being a brunette) . Try wearing more clothing - less exposed skin will be less tempting to the flying bloodsuckers. Obviously you would want to go with natural, lightweight fibers, like linen. But the most effective thing you can do is to use bug spray that contains DEET. According to the EPA, “Based on extensive toxicity testing, the Agency believes that the normal use of DEET does not present a health concern to the general population.“ Ask Gothamist has tried natural mosquito repellants, and has to report that they don’t seem to work very well for those who are extra-prone to getting bitten by the skeeters.

Mosquito bites itch because after Ms. Mosquito bites you (only the females bite), some mosquito saliva remains in the wound that’s left. The proteins in the saliva cause your body’s immune system to respond, and the bite itches until your body can break down the proteins. To take the itch out, try washing the bites and applying some anti-itch lotion - our favorite is Ssssting Stop Insect Gel.