Are you mosquito magnet? It could be your smell

Tuesday, October 25th, 2022 01:01 | By
Mosquito. PHOTO/Courtesy
Mosquito. PHOTO/Pexels

A new study finds that some people really are “mosquito magnets” and it probably has to do with the way they smell.

The researchers found that people who are most attractive to mosquitoes produce a lot of certain chemicals on their skin that are tied to smell. And bad news for mosquito magnets: The bloodsuckers stay loyal to their favourites over time.

“If you have high levels of this stuff on your skin, you are going to be the one at the picnic getting all the bites,” said study author Leslie Vosshall, a neurobiologist at Rockefeller University in New York.

There is a lot of folklore about who gets bitten more but many claims are not backed up with strong evidence, said Vosshall.

To put mosquito magnetism to the test, the researchers designed an experiment pitting people’s scents against each other, explained study author Maria Elena De Obaldia. Their findings were published Tuesday in the journal Cell. They asked 64 volunteers from the university and nearby to wear nylon stockings around their forearms to pick up their skin smells. The stockings were put in separate traps at the end of a long tube, then dozens of mosquitos were released. “They would basically swarm to the most attractive subjects,” De Obaldia said.

Experiment used the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads diseases like yellow fever, Zika and dengue.


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