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Do mosquitoes really bite some people more than others?

Anthony Sharwood, Friday January 8, 2021 - 11:53 EDT

Why are some people mozzie magnets while others can sit on the back porch and barely be bitten? Do mosquitoes really gravitate towards certain people and leave others alone, or is that just a suburban myth?

Dr Cameron Webb is a mosquito researcher with NSW Health Pathology. As he tells Weatherzone, mozzie taste preference is absolutely a thing.

"Yes, mosquitoes do favour certain people," Dr Webb explains.

"They are attracted to the chemicals you sweat out of your skin. Everybody has a unique cocktail of chemicals and that determines whether you’ll be bitten more than your friends or family."

So now you know.

Image: A striped local enjoys some fine dining. Source: Pixabay.

You should also know that an explosion in mosquito numbers is imminent in eastern Australia after all the recent rain along the east coast, as well as inland areas of NSW, Victoria, and Queensland.

According to Dr Webb, the cooler-than-usual summer weather associated with cloudy skies over the east coast has kept mosquito numbers in check to some extent. But the rain has provided perfect breeding conditions, and as soon as the sun pops out, we can expect our Australia Day BBQs to be well and truly invaded by a mozzie swarm.

"Like all insects and cold-blooded animals, their biology is determined by temperature. The warmer it is, the more active they are and the faster they can complete their development. So on average, a mosquito’s life cycle might last three or four weeks, but that gets faster with warmer temperatures which means they can take more blood meals and lay more eggs."

"Blood meals". You’ve got to love that phrase. People, that's all we are to mosquitoes. Some of us are mosquito Coke, others mosquito Pepsi – it all depends on those mozzie taste buds.

So as we head into peak mozzie period (which is usually in February), what can we do to minimise our chances of being mozzie bitten?

As Dr Webb remind us, mosquito larvae and pupae need freestanding water to complete their development, and we often have more water pools in our backyard than we realise. Anything from the dog's bowl to a plastic children's toy can be a perfect breeding pond. Even the upturned lid of a soft drink bottle can do the trick.

So if you hate the little buggers, it might be time to clean up the yard.

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