Some of us seem to attract bug bites more than others, but let’s face it, we’ve probably all been bitten by a mosquito or another flying insect at some point in our lives.
When I get bitten by a mosquito I know I’m in for a few days of itchiness and a nasty red bump on my skin, but I didn’t realise what these insects are actually doing when they land on me or how my body reacts to it.
But after reading research online I found there’s a lot more to it then I first thought. For instance, did you know it’s actually only female mosquitoes that bite us? And that some of us act as much more a magnet to these pesky insects than others? No, neither did I!
What happens after mosquitoes land on us?
When the female mosquito picks her target she’s looking for blood to use to help produce her eggs, according to The Science Explorer. After she’s landed she’ll use her proboscis – a sharp mouthpiece that cuts through the top layer of our skin then start digging around for a blood vessel, as shown in the picture below.
When the mosquito breaks the skin it injects a numbing saliva so you don’t feel a thing and starts searching for these blood vessels so it can suck the blood out of them.
And amazingly, although the snout is very sharp and may look like one tube, it actually has six mouthparts, some of which are so flexible they can almost bend at right-angles as they search for blood.
They drink for an average of four minutes, and, according to National Geographic, they suck the blood so hard that the blood vessels start to collapse.
How do our bodies react?
A few minutes after the mosquito has bitten you, your body has realised that the numbing saliva is a foreign invader (known as an anticoagulant) and quickly sends Lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell, to the area to kill the saliva.
The body also releases a chemical compound called histamine, which is the same thing that’s released whenever we have an allergic reaction – which many people have to specific foods.
It is our own histamine that causes the other blood vessels around the bite to swell up and grow, creating that nasty red bump we all associate with mosquito bites.
The nerves in and around the bite are also aggravated, which is why we all start scratching the annoying itch that comes with mosquito bites.
After a couple of days, it is likely that the white blood cells have done their job and killed off the threat, and your bite mark should have started to fade.
Why do some us seem like magnets to mosquitoes?
A lot of us either know someone, or we are that someone, who seems to constantly attract mosquitoes and bugs during the summer and always get covered with nasty red bites.
An estimated 20 per cent of us are mosquito magnets, and perhaps unsurprisingly a lot of this comes down to blood type.
One scientific study found people with type O blood had more mosquitoes land on them than those with type A or type B.
Apparently drinking alcohol can also lead to more mosquito bites as well – with more ethanol released in our sweat when we drink. But clothing colour can also be a big factor, with Professor Jonathan Day saying people dressed in dark colours such as navy blue, red and black stand out, making it easier for mosquitoes to find them.
It’s amazing to find out what attracts these irritating insects and frightening to see what actually happens to our bodies when we’re bitten by them, see for yourself in the video below!
If you hate getting bitten by mosquitoes please share so you can make others aware of what takes place in our body!