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Diet and mosquitoes: Is what you eat making you tastier to them? - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Diet and mosquitoes: Is what you eat making you tastier to them?

The first thing mosquitoes notice on the way to suck our blood is the carbon dioxide we breathe out. (Source: CBS 5 News) The first thing mosquitoes notice on the way to suck our blood is the carbon dioxide we breathe out. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Mosquitoes are on the minds of many as Zika virus fears continue to grow, especially now that we are in the monsoon.

We know mosquitoes love our blood, but could your diet make you more attractive to the pesky insects?

Let's first talk about how mosquitoes find us, hone in on us at a backyard BBQ or at a park.

The first thing mosquitoes notice on the way to suck our blood is the carbon dioxide we breathe out.

Mosquitoes can sense CO2 'plumes' coming out of humans from up to 100 feet away.That's quite the distance.

They also pick up on our body heat, according to University of Arizona mosquito researcher Michael Riehle.

Riehle said that mosquitoes get even closer to our skin and ready for a bite by zeroing in on compounds we release.

"One of the big ones is lactic acid," he said. "So when you sweat, you produce lactic acid. Certainly the mosquito that transmits Zika, Aedes aegypti, is attracted to that lactic acid."

Riehle pointed to one study that suggested beer was a factor in CO2 attraction for some mosquitoes in Africa.

"Researchers compared people who drank beer and who did not, and showed and increase in attractiveness to people who had recently consumed beer," he explained.

But Riehle added that study has not been done on the mosquitoes we see here in the state of Arizona.

So if mosquitoes are attracted to lactic acid, could cutting back on food high in lactic acid -- yogurt and cheese -- keep the pests away?

Riehle said it likely only plays a small part and your genetics are the bigger factor.

"What compounds you're producing, how many you're secreting onto your skin, how warm you are and how much sweat and lactic acid you produce, " he said.

The best defense, other than trying to tweak your diet, is limiting your time outside during sunrise and sunset, and using an insect repellant that contains DEET.

RELATED: Consumer Reports ranks mosquito sprays with eye on Zika

RELATED: Maricopa County has traps that target Zika-carrying mosquitoes

RELATED: Potentially life-saving mosquito research underway at Vanderbilt

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