One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to mosquitoes is why some affect some more than others. The preferences of these insects are often the subject of debate and belief, but where does the truth lie? Let’s find out together!
Do mosquitoes choose who to bite?
There are several studies on all of this. One wonders why some people are actually bitten more frequently than others. New research, led by a team of scholars from Rockefeller University in New York, specifically suggests that some individual variations in skin odor could explain our different appeal to mosquitoes.
Is leather odor a factor?
It has been thought that the smell of one’s skin also plays a fundamental role. For this reason, the American researchers conducted a three-year study, in which they asked the subjects who most often reported mosquito bites to wear nylon stockings on their forearms for six hours a day, for several days, in order to collect the smell. of their skin.
The same thing was asked of a group of “lucky ones”, that is, those who are not bitten by mosquitoes. Therefore, a two-choice olfactometric test was designed, consisting of a plexiglass chamber divided into two tubes, each ending in a box that contained a sock. They then placed Aedes aegypti mosquitoes – the main vector species of viruses such as Zika, dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya – in the main chamber and observed the insect’s preferences as they flew along the tubes to one sock instead of another.
The result of the test
The test showed that mosquitoes were particularly attracted to the sock worn by a specific person (subject 33) and that it did not change over time. The scholars then calculated to what extent subject 33 was more inviting than the others. They found that he was four times more attractive than the next study participant for whom mosquitoes had shown a greater predilection.
Mosquitoes only bite some people more
These analyzes revealed that significantly higher levels of three carboxylic acids were present on the skin of the people who attracted mosquitoes the most. These are entadecanoic, heptadecanoic and nonadecanoic.
The specific blend of these and other carboxylic acids varied among the different highly attractive subjects. The researchers explained this in the study just published in the journal Cell. “Therefore, there may be more than one way in which a person can be more attractive to mosquitoes.”
All this has already been confirmed by a previous research conducted by researchers at Rockefeller University, which revealed the complexity of the olfactory system of Aedes aegypti.