Are mosquitoes really more attracted to certain people?

Image for article titled Yes, Mosquitoes Really Like Some People More

Photo: Elizaveta Galitckaia (Shutterstock)

Have you ever been on a group hike where you all forgot to bring bug spray, or maybe had a backyard barbecue where the mosquitoes came out in full force? Chances are that by the end of the day, some people will be covered in bites while others only have an itch or two. “Mosquitoes love me,” the unfortunate among you might remark. And that’s probably true.

We’ve known for a long time that mosquitoes seem to prefer some people over others.but looking for the reasons Why was difficult. Spoiler: While scientists have not yet solved this mystery, we have a bunch of clues.

Body size and activity

For starters, we know that mosquitoes sailing towards us smelling the carbon dioxide, which we are constantly exhaling. The taller you are, the more oxygen you inhale and the more carbon dioxide you exhale. This means adults are more easily found by mosquitoes than children, larger adults are more easily found than smaller adults, and you will be an easier target for mosquitoes when you are pregnant than when you are not.

We also breathe more when we exercise because we need more oxygen to burn the calories that fuel that exercise. This results in more carbon dioxide. So when you’re exercising, you’re more of a target than when you’re sitting still. Mosquitoes also sense our body heat, which exercise increases with exercise like good.

dark clothes

Once mosquitoes locate our general area, they fly to large dark objects. People wearing dark clothes are more bitten by mosquitoes than those wearing light clothes. So when the mosquitoes are outside, remember to dress in light colors. Some research suggests red or orange clothes are particularly attractive for Aedes mosquitoes (the striped ones you find in the southern United States), you might want to stick to blues and greens when choosing your pastel wardrobe.

JJust the way you feel

There are certainly other factors that influence mosquito tastes, but scientists are still working to figure out what they like. are. Drinking alcohol seems to have an effect on our attraction to insectsfor a.

But there is more. In a recent study, researchers asked people to wear stockings over their arms for several days to soak up their scent, then exposed these mosquito stockings. Not surprisingly, skaters favored some bottoms over others; the scientists’ plan was to genetically alter the sense of smell of mosquitoes and see if that stopped them from smelling some people or everything people. This aspect of the experiment did not work.

But in the process, it turned out that the differences from person to person weren’t subtle. One sample, Subject 33, was 100 times as attractive to mosquitoes as the less attractive specimen. As the researchers told Sci Tech Daily:

Trial samples were anonymized, so experimenters did not know which participant wore which nylon. Yet they would notice that something unusual was brewing in any trial involving Subject 33, as the insects would swarm towards this sample. “It would be obvious a few seconds into the test,” says [researcher Maria Elena] from Obaldia.

Chemical analysis showed the most attractive stockings were rich in carboxylic acids, a family of chemicals we manufacture in our sebaceous glands. The bacteria and other microbes that grow on our skin likely also influence this chemical profile (and possibly vice versa). So we’re still learning Why some people smell mosquitoes better, but at least it’s clear that the difference is real.

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