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Bad buzz: Mosquitoes love to bite beer drinkers, study


** FILE ** In this Friday, May 11, 2007, photo, a mosquito is sorted according to species and gender before testing for West Nile Virus at the Dallas County mosquito lab in Dallas. Scientists have been working on mathematical models to predict outbreaks for decades and have long factored in the weather. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Roughly 20 percent of people are more frequent meal tickets for mosquitoes than the rest of the population, and Smithsonian Magazine set out to investigate: Why?

Beer drinkers beware. Mosquitoes love the brew.

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A Smithsonian Magazine blogger wrote: “Just a single 12-ounce bottle of beer can make you more attractive to the insects, one study found. But even though researchers had suspected this was because drinking increases the amount of ethanol excreted in sweat, or because it increases body temperature, neither of these factors were found to correlate with mosquito landings, making their affinity for drinkers something of a mystery.”

Scientists also say a slew of other factors — from blood type, metabolism and pregnancy status to the levels of exercise you do and carbon dioxide you emit — play roles.

Mosquitoes, for instance, can smell lactic acid and other substances in sweat, and go for the higher temperature bodies, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

The pests also like Type O blood twice as much as Type A. And they’re attracted to high levels of carbon dioxide and can smell the gas from 164 feet away.

That means those with larger frames and bigger bodies are more at risk for bites. That goes double for pregnant women: Mosquitoes bite women who are expecting about twice as many times as the general population, the magazine found.

Two other findings: Genetics play a role, as do clothing selections. Mosquitoes do use eyesight to scan their victims, and dressing in black, dark blue and red — colors contrary to nature — are draws, Smithsonian reported.

About the Author

Cheryl K. Chumley

Cheryl Chumley is a continuous news writer for The Washington Times. Previously, she was part of the start-up team for The Washington Times’ digital aggregation product, Times247. She’s also a 2008-2009 Robert Novak journalism fellow with The Phillips Foundation. She can be reached at

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