Ladies, gather your ‘SWAT’ team

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

Even after the fight for equal rights, some members of society still consider the female to be “the fairer sex.”  While we may have experienced some situations in which society views us as less capable — professional advancement, salaries, and replacing a carburetor, for example — when it comes to mosquitoes, the ladies have the goods!!!

After a day at the beach, or an outdoor barbeque, statistics indicate that women tend to experience more mosquito bites than their male counterparts.  Is this a random occurrence? Not according to entomologist John Edman, Ph.D.  As the spokesman for the Entomological Society of America, these insects do have taste preferences.  With a keen sense of smell, even over great distances, mosquitoes are drawn to individuals who produce excess amounts of uric acid and carbon dioxide.

While you are enjoying your dinner of grilled hot dogs on a summer’s day, mosquitoes are sensing their dinner as well…from as far away as 50 meters.  Larger individuals tend to produce more carbon dioxide, which may explain why adults suffer from more annoying itchy bites than smaller children. Those who brag to their friends about being able to eat anything they choose and not gain weight might be in for some “payback”: Individuals with higher metabolic rates will produce more carbon dioxide and thus are unwittingly setting the dinner table for unwanted buzzing guests.

Other scents are highly attractive to mosquitoes, too. Estradiol, a by-product released during the body’s production of estrogen, can be sensed by the insects. Being the gender with a greater concentration of estrogen coursing through our bodies, we become a highly desirable target.  Pregnant women are a sure bull’s eye for mosquitoes. This is due not only to their bodies producing greater amounts of exhaled carbon dioxide and estrogen, but also to their higher body temperature, a favorite of these pesky little bugs.


Perhaps it is not the meek, but rather the mosquito who will inherit the earth.  After all, they have survived for over 170 million years!  We can take heart in the fact that the more frequently one is bitten by a particular species, the less severe the reaction will become. But don’t get too excited about that golden nugget: at last count, there were over 3,000 different species of mosquitoes buzzing around the world!