New Study Confirms Some People Really are Mosquito Magnets
Itchy, swollen, and red? Mosquito bites can be the worst, especially when you take extra precautions to protect yourself. Maybe you’ve heard the old Southern myth that people with sweet blood attract the most mosquitoes. Or there are even some who suggest people with a particular blood type are more attractive to mosquitoes. There are a lot of rumors out there about what and who attracts the most mosquitoes but in a recent study published by the journal, Cell, scientists are out to prove that certain people really are mosquito magnets.
The Mosquito Magnet Experiment
On the quest to establish once and for all who attracts the most mosquitoes, scientists gathered 64 participants and had them wear nylon stockings on their arms. A senior scientist at Kingdom Supercultures and the lead author of this study, Maria Elena De Obaldia said, “Those nylons would not have a smell to me or, I think, to anyone.” However, after 6 hours each person’s smell saturated the nylon stocking enough to attract mosquitoes. Researchers cut the stockings into pieces and placed pieces from different participants into two closed containers that held female mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes are the only mosquitoes that feed off human blood instead of plant nectar. Over the course of several months, research conducted head-to-head battles over which subject’s sample attracted the most mosquitoes. Once the experiment was complete, researchers had clear proof some people attracted more mosquitoes than others. They even found that one subject had an attractiveness score “over 100 times greater” than the least attractive subject.
Who Attracts the Most Mosquitoes?
In the study that was conducted, researchers found that certain body odors attract more mosquitoes than others. Because everyone has a different genetic makeup, the chemical compounds that are excreted from the body are at different levels. Every person has a unique smell and scent profile thanks to these chemical compounds. Researchers discovered that people with a scent threshold containing high levels of carboxylic acid attracted the most mosquitoes. Carboxylic acids are an organic compound found in human sebum, which is the oily layer that coats our skin. There weren’t enough participants in this study to establish what personal characteristics make some people produce more carboxylic acids than others. Unfortunately, there is no way to test your skin for your carboxylic acid levels outside of a science lab.
The compounds found in sebum on human skin do remain constant over time. Scientists know that sebum acts as a moisture barrier and protection for our skin which traps odor. Therefore, humans tend to have a consistent odor profile throughout their lives. Researchers noted that the study ran for several months but the attractiveness of participants did not change regardless of changes to lifestyle like grooming habits or diet. So unfortunately, if you were born a mosquito magnet, you more than likely will be one for the rest of your life.
Why Are Mosquitoes More Attracted to Certain People?
Scientists aren’t sure why mosquitoes are so attracted to high levels of carboxylic acids, they just know that they are. Although, Maria Elena De Obaldia believes that mosquitoes ultimately have adapted to seeking out high levels of carboxylic acids to differentiate humans from animals. While this theory is not scientifically proven, humans are the only ones who have higher levels of carboxylic acid as the bacteria on human skin can harbor more of it. She notes that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes evolved to seek out humans and additionally that this evolution could have something to do with clean water that is often nearby humans which is a perfect breeding place for mosquitoes. Furthermore, these types of mosquitoes have grown to love carboxylic acids because they are excellent indicators of the presence of humans.
If you suspect you might be a mosquito magnet, do not fear. All hope is not lost as this study could provide researchers with the support they need to develop a more effective mosquito repellent. While we wait for a more effective bug spray to come on the market, another option is to look into a mosquito misting system. A mosquito misting system provides safe and effective protection for your entire property. So whether you are a mosquito magnet or not, the mosquito misting system has you protected. To learn more about how to stay mosquito-free, please contact our mosquito control experts today.