A new study reveals that some people to attract mosquitoes much more than others, and that probably involves their smell.
Researchers have found that people who attract mosquitoes the most produce a lot of certain chemicals on their skin. These chemicals are related to scent which attracts mosquitoes.
Leslie Vosshall is one of the study’s authors and a neurobiologist at Rockefeller University in New York. She said: “If you have high levels of this product on your skin, you are going to be the one who picnic get all the bites.
For many years there have been many ideas about who is most likely to get bitten. But those ideas have not been backed by strong evidence, Vosshall said.
For the study, the researchers designed an experiment to compete with people’s smells.
They asked 64 volunteers to wear down around their forearms to soak up or absorb the scent of their skin. The stockings were placed in separate traps at the end of a long tube. So, dozens mosquitoes were released.
Mosquitoes came to some traps much more than others. The scientists did the experiment several times, always changing the stockings that competed with each other. In the end, they discovered a huge difference between the stockings. The most attractive bottom was about 100 times more attractive to mosquitoes than the last.
The experiment used a kind of mosquito that spreads diseases like yellow fever, Zika and dengue fever. Vosshall said she would expect similar results from other types of mosquitoes. But more research needs to be done to be sure.
By testing the same people for more than a year, the study showed that these big differences persisted, said Matt DeGennaro, a neurogeneticist at Florida International University. He did not participate in the research.
“Mosquito magnets seem to stay mosquito magnets,” DeGennaro said.
The researchers found a commonality factor: Mosquito magnets had high levels of certain acids on their skin. People produce them in different quantities, Vosshall said. Healthy bacteria that live on the skin eat these acids and produce some of our skin’s odor, she said.
Research could help find new ways to repel mosquitoes, said Jeff Riffell, a neurobiologist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the study. There may be ways to affect skin bacteria and alter the smell that attracts mosquitoes, he said.
However, he said that would be difficult to do. The researchers also experimented with mosquitoes whose genes were altered to damage their sense of smell. But they always flew to the same mosquito magnets.
Vosshall said mosquitoes have ways of finding us even if we change certain conditions. “They have a lot backup plans to be able to find us and bite us,” she said.
I am Andrew Smith.
Maddie Burakoff wrote this story for The Associated Press. Andrew Smith adapted it for VOA Learning English.
words in this story
to attract -v. to draw attention to something or bring something to something else
scent -not. a smell or smell
picnic -not. a meal eaten outdoors, often in a park or other natural setting
down -not. fitted covering for the legs, feet or arms, usually made of nylon
dozen -not. a group of twelve items
factor -not. something or thing that has an effect on a situation or event
repel -v. to force or push away something that is pointing at an object
backup -not. alternatives, other options
We want to hear from you.
We have a new comment system. Here’s how it works:
- Write your comment in the box.
- Below the box, you can see four images for social media accounts. They are for Disqus, Facebook, Twitter and Google.
- Click on an image and a box appears. Enter your social media account ID. Or you can create one on the Disqus system. It’s the blue circle with “D” on it. It’s free.
Every time you come back to comment on the Learning English site, you can use your account and see your comments and replies. Our feedback policy is here.