Mosquitos and other bugs are excellent at picking up on human odor, which is why they can easily spot and “attack” us. This can be particularly annoying if they keep landing on our faces. A few main reasons bugs may be attracted to our faces, and knowing those reasons is the first step to stopping the attacks from happening.
Here are the main reasons why bugs keep flying in your face:
- Your face is sweaty.
- There’s carbon dioxide coming from your mouth.
- The head is one of your body’s warmest parts.
- The skin on your face is usually exposed.
- Your eyes are teary.
- You’re using shampoo or face lotion.
- You’ve been drinking beer.
Let’s take a closer look at the main reasons bugs keep flying in your face so that you can discover what you can do to stop them.
1. Your Face Is Sweaty
Humans are the smelliest species on the planet, and many animals, bugs, in particular, can pick up on our odor. When we sweat, we become even easier to smell due to the scent that our sweat produces.
Out of all bug species, mosquitos are the most capable of sensing human sweat, which is why you may find them all over you during the summer when you’re hot and sweaty.
Due to their poor sight, mosquitos have developed a fantastic sense of smell which they use to identify their next “blood meal.” When you sweat, you produce a so-called lactic acid that mosquitoes can smell with their ionotropic receptor 8a (IR8a). Researchers discovered this recently in a study published on Current Biology.
So, if you’re outside and you notice that your face is getting sweaty, try to wipe the sweat away with a towel or splash your face with water. The Acteon Microfiber Gym Towels from Amazon.com are excellent for wiping away sweat and fighting body odors.
2. There’s Carbon Dioxide Coming From Your Mouth
Body odor and the carbon dioxide that we exhale when we breathe are the first things that most bugs can sense, and they can do so from several feet away.
Many bugs, including mosquitos and bed bugs, have a carbon dioxide receptor that they use to detect the presence of people once they exhale. However, this doesn’t mean that they will necessarily go for your mouth or face. Once they find you, they will likely go for any bare skin they can find and attempt to bite you.
Humans have learned to use the bugs’ carbon dioxide senses against them by setting up traps. This is a standard solution for dealing with a bed bugs problem.
Bed Bug TV offers an excellent tutorial on how you can set up a bed bug trap yourself:
3. The Head Is One of Your Body’s Warmest Parts
After initially being drawn to you due to your body odor and emission of carbon dioxide, once a bug gets within a couple of inches from you, it begins to pick up on things like body temperature using its infrared vision.
Studies have shown that bugs are drawn to higher temperatures, and since your head is one of the warmest parts of your body, bugs will usually prefer it to other parts.
There are a few bugs that have this ability. Some of them are:
- Bed bugs
These are all bloodsucking bugs, with hundreds of millions of years of evolution in detecting the warm blood of humans and other animals. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to stop this.
4. The Skin on Your Face Is Usually Exposed
We already talked about why bugs are attracted to your skin. First, all of your body produces heat which is the initial thing that bugs pick up on. As they get closer, things like sweat or pleasant smells incite them to investigate even further.
Unlike other parts of your body, such as your armpits or chest that we often cover with clothing, the skin on your face is usually left fully exposed unless you’re wearing glasses or a face mask.
If you’re willing to go to the lengths to stop bugs from getting on and around your face, your best bet is to start wearing a bug head netting. This CozyCabin Mosquito Head Net Hat from Amazon.com will do a great job at stopping mosquitos and other bugs from getting close to your face.
5. Your Eyes Are Teary
Some bugs, primarily gnats, and sweat bees are attracted to the salt and lacrimal secretions formed in your eyes. This is why you will often find them flying around your eyes and trying to land close to them.
Gnats appear during warm weather, usually where there’s vegetation, so you should be careful of them when gardening, mowing your lawn or taking a walk at the park. Although they don’t bite, they can still spread bacteria and cause conjunctivitis or pink eye.
As their name suggests, “sweat bees” are bees that usually feed on animal sweat and tears. They can be found in graveyards and around fallen trees. It would help if you were extra careful not to allow them to get inside your eyes.
6. You’re Using Shampoo or Face Lotion
As I have said, bugs have a highly developed sense of smell, and if what they smell is something that they like, you can be sure that they will fly towards it.
Thus, the scents coming from the shampoos and lotions you use on your face can also be a significant contributing factor in attracting specific bugs to your face. Fruity and other natural scents are particularly attractive to bugs.
Here are some species of bugs that the smell of your shampoo or lotion can attract:
- Fruit flies
Once some of these species detect the sweet smell of your shampoo or lotion, you can be sure that they will try to inspect it.
One thing you can do to stop the bugs from smelling your care products is reading through the label and making sure that they don’t contain honey, fruit, or other sweet smells.
Additionally, you could also invest in a bug repellent spray or lotion that you can apply to your skin. The Bug Soother Spray from Amazon.com is an excellent choice for that.
7. You’ve Been Drinking Beer
Entomologists from the University of California, Riverside, found that flies can sense glycerol. This sweet-tasting and non-toxic liquid can be produced in different ways, including yeast fermentation, which brews beer. This compound is the exact reason why bugs may be flying around your face if you’ve been drinking beer.
Sap beetles, an agricultural pest feeding on corn and a wide range of fruits and vegetables, are also known as “beer bugs.”
Surprisingly, flies will not only be attracted to beer but will also drink it until they’re physically able to, according to a study by UCSF.
- NBC News: Humans are the world’s smelliest animal, study shows
- Combat: Warmer weather means more bugs
- BBC News: Taiwan doctor finds four sweat bees living inside woman’s eye
- WTOP News: They crave those tears: Why gnats go for the eyes
- University of California San Francisco: Deprived of Sex, Jilted Flies Drink More Alcohol
- Sciencing: Animals That Can See Infrared Light
- Current Biology: Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes Detect Acidic Volatiles Found in Human Odor Using the IR8a Pathway
- National Institutes of Health: How Mosquitoes Detect People
- University of California, Riverside: The Buzz Around Beer
- Entomology: Fruit Flies