Mosquitos Always Ate Her Up When She Learned Why, Everyone Was Shocked
LifeAspire Staff 5/3/2016
Why are some people mosquito bait? There's some fascinating science behind how mosquitos choose who they are going to snack on.
What Makes You A Target
It may all come down to genes, say authors of a recent study in the journal PLOS One.
British researchers worked with sets of twins who bravely put their hands into specially constructed domes full of mosquitos. Odors from the twins' clean hands either attracted or repelled mosquitos. Researchers found that the identical twins, who share all their genes, had consistently more similar scores compared to fraternal twins.
Basically, our genes affect the way we smell to insects. Some of us are genetically hardwired to repel insects; some of us are wired to attract them.
Zika And Other Mosquito Dangers
With the Zika virus in the news today, more and more people are concerned about mosquito bites. Pregnant women are being warned by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to take precautions before traveling to certain countries.
Bites from infected mosquitos can also transmit West Nile virus, yellow fever, malaria and certain types of brain infection.
If you get bit by a mosquito, you usually get a bump. Occasionally, the bite can cause a large area of swelling, soreness and redness. If you are bitten and develop symptoms such as fatigue or headaches, see your doctor.
More Science Behind Skeeters
Researchers have been working to unlock the reasons why mosquitos zero in on certain people. Here's some items that they know for sure:
- Women who are pregnant seem to attract insects more than women who aren't.
- People who produce larger amounts of carbon dioxide such as those who are larger or play sports are more attractive to mosquitos.
- People with malaria seem to be the most attractive to mosquitos during the time when the disease is the most transmissible.
- Certain mosquitos are attracted to odors on peoples' hands and feet rather smells from their groins and armpits.
More work needs to be done to better understand why mosquitos target certain people, they say.
What Researchers Are Now Buzzing About
Researchers will continue to look into how genetics helps humans attract and repel insects, said PLOS study author James Logan, a senior lecturer, who made his comments in a written statement to the press.
"In the future, we may even be able to take a pill which will enhance the production of natural repellants by the body and ultimately replace skin lotions.''
With more concerns being raised about the Zika virus and other transmittable mosquito-borne viruses, expect more attention to this research.
How To Avoid Being Mosquito Bait
While researchers work on looking for greater links between how genetics affects your attractiveness to mosquitos, there are some things you can do to repel them if you are enjoying your backyard or the great outdoors. Make sure you are well protected by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants instead of shorts. The CDC also has some specific suggestions on what kind of mosquito repellent to use. And if genes are really behind how mosquitoes select you, it may be a good idea to send someone else outside to do the grilling!