The Science Behind Mosquitoes: What Blood Type Do They Like?

Amy Schaeffer

Mosquitoes are little vampires and they prefer a certain blood type, scientists say. The other interesting thing about mosquitoes that most people are unaware of is that the pesky critters really do serve a purpose in the ecosystem, and it's not to drive you insane. Many people wonder with all the scientific discoveries that have been created, why we can't just kill mosquitoes once and for all. It's a plausible idea, especially when you consider that the mosquito is the deadliest species on earth.

The World Health Organization estimates they cause several million deaths a year, and in the United States, the threat is growing, thanks to invasive species like the Asian tiger mosquito, first identified in 1985. Thankfully, although there are over 3,000 mosquito species, there are only a few that spread disease to humans, but it is enough to cause concern.

We worry over sharks and snakes endlessly, but the mosquito is much more dangerous and invasive. And there's a good chance that there are even specific people they like to bite more than others. However, entomologists say we cannot kill them off without serious negative consequences. They think that it's likely there are other insects that feed mostly on mosquitoes, and that serious environmental damage would be done if they were eliminated, as well as it's likely that the chemicals or methods needed to kill them may harm to ecosystem.

While responsible for Dengue fever and West Nile Virus, with the billions of people living on earth, one is still unlikely to fall victim to a disease caused by a mosquito. However, some humans are likely to be bitten if they have certain characteristics. Believe it or not, some people have never been bitten by a mosquito.

Scientists believe that several things may interplay to make a person more appetizing to a mosquito -- one is to have Type-O blood. Mosquitoes seek these individuals out to bite, so they really are the universal donor. Another theory is that people carry certain types of lipid compounds in their blood that may vary from individual to individual, and there are some compounds they like better. These are likely to run in families -- so if you are plagued by mosquitoes, chances are good your children would be as well.

While there's been no foolproof way of avoiding mosquitoes, mosquito netting, wearing long pants and long sleeves, using an insect repellent, lighting small, contained fires outside and citronella candles have all been shown to decrease the frequency of bites. Whatever you do, don't scratch a mosquito bite; it can cause trauma and infection and just makes the bite itchier. The best remedy is a cold compress or a cortisone based cream.

[Photo credit to health.arlington.Virginia]