Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others' posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem for T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop!

Mosquito Mystery Explained

It has been a question that has long perplexed people: why are some individuals seemingly immune to mosquito bites, while others suffer endless attacks?

Scientists at Rothamsted Research in the U.K. have made progress in identifying which of the approximately 300-400 chemical odors produced by the human body attracts or repels insects (insects have very keen sense of smell they use to guide them to their prey). 

Using two groups of test subjects, one 'attractive' to mosquitoes and one 'unattractive, the scientists were able to isolate and  identify 7-8 distinct chemical odors which repelled mosquitoes.  Some of these odors were thought to be related to stress.

Dr. Logan and his team have found only a small number of body chemicals—seven or eight—that were present in significantly different quantities between those people who were attractive to mosquitoes and those who weren't. They then put their findings to the test. For this they used a so-called Y-tube olfactometer that allows mosquitoes to make a choice and fly toward or away from an individual's hand. After applying the chemicals thought to be repellant on the hands of individuals known to be attractive, Dr. Logan found that the bugs either flew in the opposite direction or weren't motivated by the person's smell to fly at all.

The group's latest paper, published in March in the Journal of Medical Entomology, identified two compounds with "significant repellency." One of the compounds, 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one, is a skin-derived compound that has the odor of toned-down nail-polish remover, according to George Preti, an organic chemist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, who is involved in a separate line of research into insect-biting behavior. The other, identified in the paper as geranylacetone, has a pleasant odor, though there is some question about whether the chemical is formed by the human biochemical process or is picked up in the environment, Dr. Preti says.


From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by Geekazoid.

(Illustration: Michael C. Witte)

Based on an article I've read, I believe that mosquitoes are attracted by body heat. I've confirmed this by experience. When I am in a place where there were plenty of mosquitoes, they hover over my head where the heat from the lower parts of the body collect. The mosquitoes also go to parts of my arm and leg warmed by my blood..
Another factor that attracts mosquitoes, again based on my own observation, is sound. When I hum, the mosquitoes come to my face.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
My dad used to get bit by mosquitos like crazy Alaska. Then for some reason he became immune and they never bit him again. He could even put his arm out in a swarm. They would come and land, but no bites.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I find that if I eat more meat, mosquitos bite me more than when I eat more fruit. Something with the smellof my skin changes and that makes them react.

But where I live I couldn't care less if they bite me half dead - as long as the do it silent without their buzzing around my ears in the middle of the night anbd just let me sleep. I'll bother about the itch during daytime when I'm awake anyhow...
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Foreigner1 I'm the same way. I usually don't even notice them when they are biting me; it doesn't leave a bump or itch. I have not eaten meat in a long time. They will be swarming people all around me before they start to notice me. I'll sleep fine with them as long as they aren't near my ears.

I did try the eating a clove of garlic method a couple of times when I knew I would be around a lot of them. I just swallowed a clove like a pill. The next day I had garlic farts, then for 2 or 3 days after that, the mosquitoes wouldn't come near me.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Acronym, Definition;
BZ, Business.
BZ, Belize.
BZ, Busy.
BZ, Blizzard.
BZ, Bronze.
BZ, Bautzen (german auto license plate).

BZ, Benzene ... Therefore I Am!!

Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I wish they'd find a definitive reason why some people attract mozzies and how to repel them. I am so allergic that I have to take antibiotics with me on holiday or I'll get badly infected with blood blisters and a fever.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I read in a Swedish science magazine a few years ago, and someone asked this very question.

The answer was that studies had been made and came to the conclusion that people in general have this kind of smell that repel mosquitoes but some people, like me, are missing that smell and when near a swarm or individuals of mosquitoes we get the bites first and most of them.

Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 11 comments
Email This Post to a Friend
"Mosquito Mystery Explained"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More