If Mosquitoes Tend To Swarm You There May Be A Reason Why

If you are one of the unlucky individuals that tend to get swarmed by mosquitos when those around you seem to be untouched, there may be a reason why. Some new research sheds some light on the subject and it isn’t your blood type or your magnetic personality, it might be because you smell.

The author of the study, Leslie Vosshall, is a neurobiologist at Rockefeller University in New York. In the published study, she speaks about the “high levels of stuff” we have in our skin and if you are one that has the right stuff, you are going to be the one that gets bit.

Photo: flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture

That stuff is actually chemicals that tend to attract mosquitoes because they are being eaten by healthy bacteria. If you are one of those that have them, then the mosquitoes are going to be around you consistently.

Another author of the study, Maria Elena De Obaldia, spoke about how they set up the test. In the experiment, they put the scent of different people into the mix and saw which tended to attract the most mosquitoes. After running the tests, they published the results in the journal Cell.

64 volunteers from Rockefeller University were selected for the experiment. Each of them wore forearm stockings made of nylon to pick up their unique scent. They then used the stockings in mosquito traps on one end of a long tube and released dozens of mosquitoes on the other end.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Aedes aegypti mosquito was used in this experiment, although they think the results would be similar if other types of mosquitoes were used. The Aedes aegypti mosquito spreads various diseases, including Zika and yellow fever. De Obaldia spoke about how they would swarm the most “attractive subjects.” She also said it was quickly obvious which was the favorite.

They then continued to run the experiment multiple times and it continued to show the same results over and over. In the end, there was one particular mosquito magnet that was 100 times more attractive than the nylon that came in last place.

Another interesting factor that came to light was the longevity of remaining a mosquito magnet. As they continued to run the experiments with the same people year after year, the same people showed the same results.

Photo: flickr/Johan

Certain types of acids on the skin seemed to really make a difference in the attraction of mosquitoes. It was part of the moisturizing layer of the skin. Even though all people create these “greasy molecules,” they produce them in different amounts. Healthy bacteria on the skin eat the acids and they are what produce the odor that is unique to each of us.

Vosshall said that it is impossible to remove the acids without causing damage to your skin. However, this research may show some methods that could repel mosquitoes and help to keep them away.

According to a neurobiologist that was not involved in the study from the University of Washington, it may be possible to adjust our skin’s bacteria and effectively change our smells.

People, Pets & Planet

Help where it’s needed most at GreaterGood for free!