Protect yourself from mosquitoes by using repellents, managing breeding sites, and controlling populations.

What Attracts Mosquitoes and How To Keep Them Away (2024)

Nothing can ruin a nice summer’s evening on the patio, quite like a mosquito infestation. Mosquitoes are one of the most irritating pests you can deal with as a homeowner, and they are, unfortunately, incredibly common in the United States. Not only do they produce painful, itchy bites, but they can also carry dangerous viruses like the West Nile virus and Zika. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make sure you, your family, and your guests are protected.

By trying these methods, you can be certain that you will be safe from the irritating bites of mosquitoes, even when the climate and temperature are perfect for them.

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What Attracts Mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes are incredibly attracted to breeding grounds where they can lay eggs. The number one goal in their lives is to make more mosquitoes, and if they can’t find an ideal place to do this in your yard, they will simply move on to a different one. Because of this, you should make sure that your yard is as repellent to them as possible.

One of the things mosquitoes are most attracted to is bird baths, swimming pools, and ponds that have been neglected. If you have any of these things in your backyard, keeping up with their care and maintenance is one of the best things you can do to prevent mosquitoes from nesting and breeding there. Keeping your pool covered when it is not in use will prevent vegetation from falling in and growing bacteria, which is ideal for mosquito reproduction. If you have a bird bath, make sure you replace the water every two or three days to prevent algae and fungus growth.

Mosquitoes exist everywhere in the world in all kinds of climates. There are over 3000 species of mosquitoes in the world with an overall population that is literally unknowable. Researchers estimate, speculatively, there may be over a trillion mosquitoes in the world at the height of their breeding season.No matter how hard we try, we’ll never be able to eradicate them. That means we have to learn to live with them and figure out how to keep mosquitoes away from us. Before we can do that, we need to know why they’re attracted to us in the first place.

Why Do Mosquitoes Need Blood?

The reason mosquitoes need blood has to do with their biology and life cycle. Let’s break it down quickly.

Female mosquitoes can lay up to 200 eggs at a time. Normally, they lay their eggs in warm stagnant water where there is algae, pond scum, and bacteria. Those eggs will hatch in about 48 hours or so. Occasionally they lay their eggs above the normal water line on rivers and lakes then the eggs wait several years for a flood to cover them, at which point they hatch. Mosquitos are twice as attracted to Type O blood types as they are to Type A, with Type B blood types falling something in the middle.

The mosquito hatchlings are called larva. They swim through the water by wiggling, earning them their common name: wigglers. They are aquatic air breathers, which means they have to surface like a dolphin or whale to get a breath of air. They eat algae, scum, and bacteria. They go through several growth stages called instars, getting bigger at each stage.

Read Also: How to kill mosquito larvae?

After four to five days they enter their final instar as a pupae. In this stage, they resemble a miniature shrimp. They don’t eat because they’re in the process of transforming into a winged adult. Instead, they spend all their time tumbling through the water to avoid predators.

Here is where it gets interesting. Seven to 10 days after the eggs are laid, a fully formed adult emerges from the water and flies off. The males live less than a week, sometimes only two or three days.They only eat nectar from plants, sugary liquids, or sweet liquids from fruits. They mate with a nearby female and that’s the end of their usefulness. Soon after, they die. The female also eats nectar and other sweet liquids, the same as the male. After mating though, she needs liquid protein in order to produce her eggs. Mosquitoes don’t have teeth and jaws to chew their food so the only way she can get protein is to drink it by sucking the blood of birds and mammals. After a blood meal, she’ll rest for several days until she produces a batch of eggs. She’ll lay them in a stagnant pond then go hunting for another blood meal. Since a female mosquito can live for three to four weeks or more under optimum conditions, she can easily lay over 1000 eggs during her lifetime from that single mating.

Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Some People But Not Others?

Mosquitoes are no different than any other predator. There are certain things they’re looking for in their prey. If you meet their conditions they’re going to come gunning for you. If you don’t, they’ll ignore you in search of someone else.

Mosquitoes make their choices based on a number of different factors. Scientists are still working to discover what all of them are but they’ve identified some. The ones they’ve identified are:

  • Beer
  • Blood Type
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Clothing Color
  • Exercise and Metabolism (Heat and Sweat)
  • Pregnancy
  • Skin Bacteria

We’ll look at the blood types first since this is the chief determinate for attracting mosquitoes, then briefly cover each of the other items one by one.

What Blood Type Do Mosquitoes Prefer?

Mosquitoes need to drink blood in order to acquire the proteins necessary to produce their eggs, so it stands to reason they’d be a little picky about the type of blood they drink. Research shows they have a natural tendency to be attracted to people with Type O blood. Mosquitoes are twice as attracted to Type O blood types as they are to Type A blood types, with Type B blood types falling somewhere in the middle.

Mosquitoes prefer blood types in the following order:

  1. Type O
  2. Type B
  3. Type A

Additionally, researchers have discovered that about 85% of people secrete a chemical through their skin that signals what kind of blood type they have. The other 15% of people don’t secrete that chemical. Whether or not people secrete the chemical signal is completely divorced from what blood type they have. For instance, a person with Type O blood that mosquitoes love, may not secrete the chemical signal so mosquitoes will ignore them, while a person with Type A blood may secrete the signal. Even though Type A is the mosquito’s least favorite blood type, if that’s what is available, that’s what they’ll drink. So, in our hypothetical scenario, the Type A blood type person will be bitten while the Type O blood type person will be untouched.

Why Are Mosquitoes Biting You?

Let’s take a quick look at the other reasons mosquitoes will be drawn to one person over another.


Researchers still haven’t pinned down exactly why drinking beer attracts mosquitoes to a person. But all else being equal, drinking a single 12-ounce bottle of beer will make you far more attractive to mosquitoes than someone who doesn’t drink any. If you ever uncover the reason for it, the Smithsonian would like to talk to you.

Carbon Dioxide

One of the main ways mosquitoes finds their prey is by targeting the carbon dioxide on their breath. They can detect it from over 160 feet away. The larger a person is, the more carbon dioxide they exhale and therefore the more likely it is that a mosquito will be drawn to them.

Clothing Color

Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, reports that dark-colored clothing stands out in a mosquito’s visual range, particularly when the person wearing those colors is moving. Black, blue, and red are the predominant colors that attract mosquitoes.

Exercise and Metabolism (Heat and Sweat)

Lactic acid, which is given off when you’re exercising also attracts mosquitoes. Acetone, a chemical released in your breath when you’re exercising does the same thing, as does estradiol, an estrogen byproduct. Your body heat increases when you’re exercising, which also draws in the mosquitoes. Runners beware!


Sorry, ladies. When you’re pregnant, your abdomen averages over one-and-a-quarter degrees hotter than the rest of your body. You also exhale more carbon dioxide because you’re breathing for two people. The result is that pregnant women get bitten about twice as often as other people.

Skin Bacteria

2011 research study found that bacteria on your skin will convert non-volatile compounds in your sweat into volatile ones that are highly attractive to mosquitoes. Every person has slightly different amounts of skin bacteria as well as different types of skin bacteria.

The type and amount will significantly affect the change in your sweat compounds and how attractive they will be to mosquitoes. This means that two otherwise identical people can be standing side by side and one will be eaten up by mosquitoes while the other is left untouched.

Preventative Measures Against Mosquito Bites

  • Spray on insect repellents that contain DEET are highly effective at warding off mosquitoes. It was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 to protect soldiers in mosquito-infested areas and has proven to be safe as well as effective.
  • Tiki torches and candles with citronella are proven methods of driving mosquitoes away. As long as the flame is burning it will continue to release citronella into the air to protect you.
  • Use mosquito dunks to kill larva in the water. Each doughnut-shaped dunk will treat about 100 square feet of water without harming any fish or wildlife. No larva, no mosquitoes flying around your head.

More Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away

One of the main attractants of mosquitoes is standing water. Whenever you have water that has been allowed to stagnate and sit for a long period, it will eventually begin to attract mosquitoes. This is because they lay their eggs in water that has been allowed to grow bacteria and algae. After all, it's perfect for the growth of their young. This is especially true if the water has things like leaves and twigs, which are full of beneficial fungi and bacteria.

The best thing you can do to prevent mosquitoes is go around your yard and look for any areas that could collect water, especially after rain. Places like gutters and bird baths are perfect receptacles for standing water and probably don’t get drained or cleaned as often as they should. Planters and buckets are also prime culprits and should be turned upside down whenever it rains.

If you want to ensure that your porch or patio will be protected from mosquitoes, you can cover it with mosquito netting. These nets are designed to be small enough to prevent mosquitoes from getting in but big enough so that you still have ventilation and can see the view of your yard or garden. While netting won’t stop mosquitoes from getting in your yard, it will at least prevent them from getting onto your skin, so you can enjoy a warm summer night without getting bit.

One of the nice things about netting is that it is easy to take down and put back up whenever you want. If you live in an area where mosquitoes aren’t a year-round issue, you aren’t stuck with the netting. You can also use it in many different areas and easily move it around to your front or back porch, depending on where you’re spending the most time.

Zappers are a great way to keep mosquitoes off your porch and away from your skin without using a repellent spray. These mosquito-killing products use light attractants to bring in mosquitoes then eliminates them with a mild electric shock. They can also be turned on and off and easily removed if you don’t want them cluttering up your porch during the colder months when mosquitoes aren’t as common. Some of them can even be used as an inside mosquito repellent if you like to keep your doors and windows open in the summer.

One of the things mosquitoes look for when trying to find a place to breed and mate is shade. If your backyard has a lot of overgrown vegetation, it could be providing a perfect spot for mosquitoes to turn into an infestation. Mosquito larvae need the cool shelter of shade as well as the food that is provided by trees, shrubs, and bushes, and if your backyard has a lot of these, they will flock to it.

However, you don’t have to completely remove your plants just to get rid of mosquitoes. In fact, all you need to do is make sure that your vegetation is trimmed back and that it doesn’t have a lot of protruding branches and leaves. Trimming your vegetation as a method of mosquito control will also prevent it from falling in your planters or gutters and turning any water stagnant.

If you want to protect your patio without putting up mosquito netting, you can also spray it down for a protective perimeter. Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water is a great mosquito repellent that is effective for all seasons. By keeping a spray bottle of this solution on your patio, you can keep mosquitoes away without having to install any extra equipment.

You need to be careful with a hydrogen peroxide spray, though, because it can be toxic to other wildlife and pets. Make sure to keep the solution in a secure spray bottle and keep it out of reach of children and any pets you have around the house.

Top 3 Natural Solutions

Essential oils like citronella, lemongrass oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, tea tree, and peppermint are excellent natural pest repellents and work especially well on mosquitoes. Many of these oils are produced by plants naturally in the wild to keep pests away, and they work extremely well when they are extracted. Plus, they are non-toxic and don’t give off any harmful fumes or have poor side effects.

You can either get these oils in liquid form, which can be spread around the property and used over and over again, or they can be bought in a candle form. Citronella candles are very effective and also have the added benefit of adding a nice ambiance to your back porch or yard.

There are also plenty of plants that mosquitoes will stay away from if planted in your yard. These include geraniums, catnip, lemongrass, marigolds, and many more. The benefit of using these plants as a natural mosquito repellent is that you don’t have to worry about lighting a candle or applying oil to get the benefit of their repellent.

If you are going to plant these mosquito-repelling plants, it is best to do it in planters. This way, you can keep them close to your porch or any other area where you are trying to gather or spend time. They will be most effective there and will protect you for much longer.

Mosquitoes have a unique sense of sight that is very sensitive to dark colors. This means that darker colors like black and navy will be more likely to attract mosquitoes. To keep them from being attracted to you, wear lighter colors like whites, yellows, and tans.

If possible, you should also make sure that you cover yourself up. While wearing the lighter colors, wear long sleeves and long pants. Even though this might not always be possible since mosquitoes are more common in the summer, it can be incredibly helpful in the evenings. It will help keep you protected from bug bites, things like the Zika virus, and other harmful diseases that mosquitoes can carry.

If the above options don't work or you are curious to learn more natural option please watch the video below detailing 8 more natural ways to keep mosquitoes away:

Final Thoughts

If you are dealing with a mosquito infestation, you should first try the above methods to get rid of them. If these don’t work, you should consult a pest control professional. Not only will they be able to help you prevent the spread of mosquitoes, but they will also have many helpful tips and tricks for making sure they don’t come back.

Taking steps to protect yourself from biting insects like mosquitoes is a great way to ensure that you will be safe and healthy in warmer temperatures. If you want to be certain that your home will be protected from mosquitoes, learning about what attracts them can be incredibly helpful. Knowing how to best prevent an infestation will allow you to enjoy your outdoor spaces without being bitten up and possibly presented with a danger to your health.

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