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Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Report: Mosquitoes attracted to beer drinkers

FLORIDA KEYS -- It shouldn't come as a big surprise to locals who frequent outdoor watering holes that drinking beer makes them vulnerable to mosquito bites.

Tourists and locals in tiki bars have had to find a way to live with the small biting insects. Some restaurants have opted for screening in their outdoor areas. Many on-the-water eateries even offer customers bug spray.

But a scientific report published earlier this month in the Smithsonian Magazine indicated drinking a 12-ounce glass of beer actually makes people more likely to be subjected to a mosquito bite, but researchers couldn't exactly explain why.

Higher ethanol levels in the blood and increased body temperature did not necessarily increase the likelihood of getting bit.

For some Florida Keys residents, this new information is not surprising.

James Moseman, an Upper Keys bartender, said living with the biting insects in South Florida is simply a way of life.

"When I drink, I feel like they are attracted to me," he said, adding there must be some credibility with the relationship.

But Moseman said the new report isn't likely to change when and where he decides to have a beer.

Sitting at an outdoor bar swatting mosquitoes is a common pastime and one not likely to change in the future.

A scientist at the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District says anyone outdoors is vulnerable -- beer-lovers or not.

"There are so many [mosquitoes] out there, it really doesn't matter if you're drinking or not," said Coleen Fitzsimmons, a district biologist.

Having reviewed the Smithsonian report, Fitzsimmons said there is no real advice to offer those who want a brew.

"What are we going to do? Tell them to stop drinking beer?" she said, laughing.

Some online blogs have urged people to consume vodka-based drinks to avoid mosquitoes, but Fitzsimmons suggests that lacks credibility.

According to the Smithsonian report, blood type, pregnancy, skin genetics and clothing color also appear to play a role in luring mosquitoes.

In light of the report, Fitzsimmons reminds anyone outdoors to wear repellant.

jgore@keysnews.com

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