You’ve probably heard a lot of theories about why mosquitoes bite you more than other people. One common belief is that if your blood is very sweet, your body odor, the foods you eat, your blood type, or even the perfume you wear can attract mosquitoes. You may have also read more scientific explanations, such as the fact that these tiny insects choose their victims based on how much carbon dioxide they give off when they breathe (which is not out of place). No matter what, they are most annoying at night when they are about to choke.

Julien Martinez and his research group wrote an article about it for the Royal Society Publishing. In the beginning of the article, it says that mosquito-borne diseases are one of the main reasons why people get sick and die in tropical and subtropical areas. Malaria is a good example of this. It is spread by the Anopheles mosquito and kills more than 400,000 people every year. This same article says that for transmission to happen, there must be direct contact between the vector, which is the mosquito, and the host, which is the person or animal. This happens when the mosquito feeds on the blood of the host.

How do mosquitoes pick who to bite?

The rate at which mosquitoes find and bite people is a key part of figuring out how well they can spread disease. Now, this review says that the mosquito’s search radar can be turned on up to 55 to 70 meters away and when carbon dioxide (CO2) or other volatile compounds released by the mouth or through the mouth are present. through the skin of the host. Already on their way, they can pick up on visual signals, humidity, or even the temperature of a person’s body. All of this tells the mosquito that blood could be a possible food source. Once they land on a person, they will start to probe the skin to get blood. Smell is one of the most important ways to tell if a person is a good food source. And, no, not all mosquitoes like to bite people. Each species has its favorite food, which could be birds, mammals, or even people. But yes, when they can’t find their favorite food, it is thought that they adapt and may change what they eat to make sure they can have the most babies.

Namely, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is a major cause of diseases like yellow fever, dengue, zika, and chikungunya in humans. It is thought that a female of this species will bite humans several times in her first 3 to 6 weeks in order to get enough protein to lay eggs every 4 days. Because of the way it eats, the mosquito can spread diseases by biting people over and over again.

What makes a mosquito pick you instead of all the other people?

The body makes more than 350 volatile organic compounds, but only a small number of them are unique to each person. Mosquitoes might be attracted to a person because of the microbiome on their skin, the way they smell, if they have an infection, their genes, or even the way their bodies work. For a long time, people also said that, in addition to CO2, what attracted them was the release of lactic acid, which is why they liked athletes.

In a recent paper, Mara Elena de Obalda and her colleagues from the Rockefeller University in New York showed that a person’s body odor is a major factor in whether or not a mosquito will attack its host. Science had already shown that these insects could recognize and follow the CO2 that people give off, but it wasn’t clear how they did this. To find out, scientists studied mosquitoes for a little more than three years and tested their behavior more than 2,330 times in 174 experimental days to find out what made some mosquitoes more likely to be bitten.

The reason for this is that mosquitoes will first eat people who make the most “carboxylic acids.” There are a lot of these acids in the skin. This study says that pentadecanoic acid, heptadecanoic acid, and nonadecanoic acid, which have the highest concentrations, are the most attractive to these insects. There are also 10 other unidentified compounds in the same chemical class. Even now, the mix of each of these compounds is different for each person. So it’s basically about body odor, and it goes without saying that 85% of this is due to genes.

On the other hand, there are some people who don’t attract mosquitoes or get bitten by them at all. One possible reason for this is that some people’s bodies can make natural mosquito repellents, even when they give off a lot of carboxylic acid.

If you are interested

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