We could all use a drink after the depressing news about zika the past few months. The disease hits on every fear level from personal to generational, and it’s transmitted far too easily for comfort. But you should put down that drink if you’re in an area that has a high mosquito population because mosquitoes want you to take that drink just as much as you want to take that drink.
Yep, mosquitoes — the blood-sucking devils themselves — are more interested in people who’ve been drinking than teetotalers.
A study from the Department of Biodefence Medicine at the Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University in Japan found that the “percent (of) mosquito landing on volunteers significantly increased after beer ingestion compared with before ingestion.” Here’s the catch, though: It wasn’t the actual alcohol that was bringing the bugs, it was heat and sweat.
Don't Miss A DropGet the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.
No, alcohol doesn’t actually make you warmer. But the term “alcohol blanket” isn’t a complete farce. Alcohol makes your blood vessels dilate, and warm blood moves closer to the surface of your skin. It doesn’t take much for that to happen either, just a sip, according to “MythBusters”, and that warmth attracts mosquitoes. Also, the pipelines of blood are surging near the surface, therefore within easy reach of the mosquito’s blood straw.
People also tend to be less aware when they drink, making it easier for mosquitoes to take their sweet, blood sucking time.
“This study shows that persons drinking alcohol should be careful about their increased risk to mosquito bites and therefore exposure to mosquito-borne diseases,” the study authors write.
The study was small — it only involved 12 men and one woman — but it’s something to keep in mind. If you want to sip tropical drinks and avoid mosquitoes, there are a couple of tips and tricks. But to fully understand them, you have to understand mosquitoes themselves.
Blood is only on the menu for pregnant mosquitoes. They use protein and iron from blood to make their eggs, while males and non-pregnant females eat flower nectar. The pregnant mosquitoes can sense you from nearly 20 feet away, and are drawn to several things: a bacteria found on human feet (and Limburger cheese), heat, moisture, dark clothing and carbon dioxide.
The last attractant is another reason drinking a cold one can lead to more mosquito bites. While you release carbon dioxide with every breath, the carbonated beer in your hand is basically a bubbling magnet for blood suckers.
There you have it. If you head to the mosquito-ridden tropics, try to avoid alcohol, fizzy drinks, heat and moisture. Or, since that is almost impossible, it would be smart to invest in some hard-core bug spray.