Are You a “Mosquito Magnet”?

By Shlomo Maital  

  Are you a mosquito magnet?  Mosquitos are particularly attracted to you – while ignoring those around you?

  Some very close to me are such magnets.  And I,  I am not. 

  At long last, scholars have discovered why!  Mosquito magnet people have more carboxylic acids in their body odor and hence are more attractive to mosquitoes.  According to The Scientist, and reported on NPR’s Weekend Edition by Scott Simon:

    “The question of why some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others—that’s the question that everybody asks you,” Leslie Vosshall, a study coauthor and neurobiologist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Rockefeller University, tells Scientific American. “My mother, my sister, people in the street, my colleagues—everybody wants to know.”

    So Vosshall and her colleagues gathered 64 volunteers and asked each of them to wear nylon stockings around their arms for six hours to collect their unique skin odor. They then used these smell samples in a mosquito-attraction tournament: Placing two stockings into a separate traps side by side, they unleashed a swarm of female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (the species that carries diseases such as dengue, yellow fever, and Zika) to see which stocking they gravitated toward. After pitting the different stockings against each other, the team came out with a winner that was about 100 times more attractive than the last place sample, The Guardian reports. The scientists repeated these experiments over three years with the same subjects, finding that the subject’s attractiveness rating remained stable over time despite fluctuations in diet or skin product usage.

  Solutions?  Hmmm.  Skin crème, disguising your carboxylic acid?  Mosquitos are pretty smart. They have millions of years of evolution under their belts.  Just wear long sleeves.