DRINKING beer, exercising and being overweight makes you more attractive to mosquitoes, according to a scientific study.
The report, published in the Smithsonian magazine, dispels some myths about why some people get bitten more than others.
It comes at a time when one Falmouth GP said his surgery is treating more bites from flying insects than normal due to the hot, humid weather.
Nick Rogers, a partner at Falmouth Health Centre, also hands out some practical advice about how to avoid getting bitten and prevent bites from becoming infected.
“We have seen a few more insect bites and secondary infections than normal in the last month or so – not a massive amount, but certainly more than we would normally expect to see at this time of year,” he said.
“It is because of the warmer start to the summer and the humidity. For example, mosquitoes need the moisture for reproduction.”
Dr Rogers said the increase in bites was also due to behaviour.
“We spend more often outside, particularly in the evenings with barbecues or out walking. That is when the insects like to attack, at dusk time.”
As well as mosquitoes, black flies are also prevalent in rural areas. The tiny flies deliver a “troublesome” bite similar to that of a horse fly, according to Dr Rogers, who added: “You feel like you have been stung by a wasp.”
According to studies published in the Smithsonian magazine last summer, mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, which they can detect up to 164ft away – larger people exhale more of the gas.
At close range, the flying pests are attracted by lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia and other substances expelled via their sweat, and are also attracted to people with higher body temperatures – all of this is found in people who exercise.
The magazine also quoted from a separate study, which showed that just a single 12-ounce bottle of beer can make you more attractive to the insects.
Dr Rogers issued his own simple advice on how to avoid being bitten:
Wear long sleeves and trousers
Wear light, neutral colours, like white or cream
Avoid going out at dusk
Don’t wear any kind of perfumed skin product such as moisturiser
Use insect repellent
If you get bitten:
Don’t scratch it
Take an antihistamine
Use tiger balm, as the alcohol soothes the irritation
If it starts to look red, it could be infected, so either apply anti-septic lotion or seek medical advice.