Are you a mosquito magnet? Your body's aroma may be the allure
What is it about certain people that makes them mosquito magnets? In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams checks out a new study that may have an answer as to why the stinging pests find some people irresistible.
ROCHESTER — Are you one of those people who attracts mosquitoes? The flying pests may find you irresistibly alluring because of the smell of your skin.
A study by researchers at Rockefeller University in New York City shows that mosquitoes can't seem to resist people whose skin glands secrete certain types of fatty acids.
“There’s a very, very strong association between having large quantities of these fatty acids on your skin and being a mosquito magnet,” says Leslie Vosshall , head of Rockefeller’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior.
How did the researchers figure this out? They conducted an experiment for which they asked a group of people to wear nylons over their arms for six hours a day. Then they put those nylons in a container with swarms of one species mosquitoes.
One of those stockings — labeled Subject 33 — was by far the mosquitoes' favorite target. It was four times more attractive to the mosquitoes than the next most-attractive sample, and 100 times more appealing than the one in last place.
Then the researchers analyzed the skin secretions on the nylons and found that mosquitoes flocked to people whose skin excreted high levels of carboxylic acids.
Now that they know what mosquitoes can't seem to resist, the researchers hope their paper inspires future research on other types of mosquitoes. And maybe even studies into how to make people who are mosquito magnets less attractive to the insects.
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