Blocking the Bugs of Summer
Ah, summertime. So many ways to enjoy this beloved season—beach trips, barbecues and long warm days spent enjoying the outdoors, to name a few. Unfortunately, summer also brings with it pests of all kinds, including the most troublesome among the creepy crawly set—mosquitoes and ticks. However, people are not equally susceptible to being bothered by them. Recent studies have shown some correlation between specific blood types and the bugs who may favor them. If you know your blood type, you might want to keep this in mind.
Bad news, Type Os. It looks like you are more likely than your counterparts to leave that summer barbeque with a few mosquito bites. In a controlled study by the Journal of Medical Entomology, the common mosquito was twice as likely to land on a Blood Type O individual than on a Blood Type A person. Blood types B and AB fell in the middle of O and A in terms of the percent of mosquitoes landing on those subjects (Shirai, et al., 2004).
If you’ve read up on the history of Blood Type O, this will make sense. Both the common mosquito and the allele for Type O blood evolved in Africa during the very start of the human race. Researchers speculate that with easy regional availability of Type O proteins, early insects were likely conditioned over time to prefer Blood Type O.
With tick-borne illnesses on the rise, it’s even more important to recognize if you are at risk when it comes to this tiny but dangerous arachnid. According to researchers in the Czech Republic who tested 100 nymphal Ixodes ricinus ticks (the most common breed in Europe), Blood Type A was the allele most preferred, followed by Types O, AB and B respectively (Žákovská, et al., 2018). It should be noted that unlike the mosquito tests mentioned above, these experiments were conducted using ticks and blood drops—not ticks and people—as direct contact with human subjects presents too much of a health risk.
Prevention and Protection
Of course, no matter your blood type, there are plenty of available methods when it comes to keeping both mosquitoes and ticks at bay during the high summer season. Wearing light-colored clothing, long pants and sleeves in areas where mosquitoes or ticks may be present is a great first defense against either pest.
Ticks in particular can be tough to spot, so close inspection of skin and clothing is a must for finding them before they bite. There are a wide assortment of natural bug repellents on the market today. We have created a chart that includes essential oils that are effective, and you should read the labels of bug repellants before you buy to make sure they include some of these. If a tick is discovered attached to the skin, complete removal of the insect with tweezers or a specific tick removal device is imperative.
Mosquitos are thrown off by wind and scent. Keeping a fan nearby or wearing certain scents to mask your human odor can deter them by rendering you less detectable. In fact, there are several natural bug repellents, some of which may just surprise you:
- Neem oil
- Organic soy oil
- Black pepper
- Cedar oil
Once you’ve put precautions in place, enjoy the outdoors! Summer doesn’t last forever, but the fun memories sure will.
Shirai, Y., Funada, H., Takizawa, H., Seki, T., Morohashi, M., & Kamimura, K. (2004). Landing preference of Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) on human skin among ABO blood groups, secretors or nonsecretors, and ABH antigens. Journal of Medical Entomology, 41(4), 796-799. https://doi.org/10.1603/0022-2585-41.4.796
Žákovská, A., Janeček, J., Nejezchlebová, H., Kučerová, H. L. (2018). Pilot study of Ixodes ricinus ticks preference for human ABO blood groups using a simple in vitro method. Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine, 25(2), 326-328. https://doi.org/10.26444/aaem/8516