It’s a lovely summer evening, you’re enjoying a post-run drink outside with friends and the mosquitoes are buzzing around you. Ever wondered why you constantly have to fight off mosquitoes and others are not attracting mosquitoes like a magnet?
Well, the answer is actually quite simple. Did you know, that mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and can smell it from a distance of up to 50 meters? The more carbon dioxide a living being produces, the more attractive it is for mosquitoes (study). The higher the metabolic rate, the more carbon dioxide is exhaled even during rest – apparently three to four times as much compared to non-runners. On top of that, the runner’s higher metabolic rate additionally causes the production of lactic acid and an increased surface body temperature. The mosquito’s meal is served. That’s the simple science behind the love-hate relationship between mosquitoes and runners. Mosquitoes love runners, whereas runners hate mosquitoes!
By the way, pregnant women are also more of a mosquito magnet as they produce up to 21% more carbon dioxide than non-pregnant women according to another study.
So, but how to prevent being bitten from mosquitoes?
As mosquitoes smell, besides the carbon dioxide, the secondary attractants like lactic acid it is recommended to do your post-run stretching or cool down indoors. Be aware, that mosquitoes are especially active during dusk and dawn.
Mosquito repellent sprays, whether on a chemical or natural basis, are unfortunately easily diluted by sweat. So during your run, it doesn’t help much, but certainly during the barbecue and bonfire afterwards. There is also mosquito repellent clothing available, but those are mostly long tops and bottoms and probably not the most comfortable during a run on a warm or hot summer day.