Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why Are Mosquitoes More Attracted To Some People

While I was waiting for my cousin to pick me up from the train station the other day, I was thinking, "why are mosquitoes more attracted to some people compare to other?" I am someone who have always attracted more mosquito bites than most of my friends. It must be because I smell better, look better (I'm kidding on this) and 'taste' better. Is mosquito ever choosy on its food? That I could not answer on their behalf although my name was being associated with mosquito once in a while when I was young. However, there has been a study that shown that mosquitoes are particularly attracted to people infected with the transmissible forms of malaria than to those infected with non-transmissible forms of the disease or to unaffected people.

How does a mosquito find its target?
According to a BBC news, a team led by Rockefeller University has found that mosquitoes target exhaled breath using protein receptors in the structure extending from their jaws. The lead researcher Professor Leslie Vosshall said: "Insects are especially sensitive to carbon dioxide, using it to track food sources and assess their surrounding environment." This would be an important discovery as at least one million people die of malaria world wide each year.

Besides carbon dioxide, let us take a look at other factors that lure the mosquitoes to us:
  • Lactic acid that is released during exercise or consuming particular food.
  • Body heat.
  • Dark-coloured clothing (this together with body heat could be two major contributing factors to more bites for me as I like to wear black tee-shirt and I have high body heat).
  • Perfumes, used in a range of body care products (e.g. shampoo, body shower cream, body lotion), also help mosquitoes identify a target.

A combination of these factors could be the reasons why mosquitoes are more attracted to some people than others. There are some other interesting theories as to why some people get more mosquito bites.

Some theories involving gender were proposed and then discarded. One theory said that women were more likely to be bitten than men because mosquitoes are repelled by the strong odour of human sweat. Women who are deem to 'smell' better than men received greater attention from men. However, some men are bitten more than some women (and vice verse).

Another funny theory said that mosquitoes prefer thin-skinned people and thus women get bites more because women generally have thinner skin than men.

Third, it was theorised that women had some secret hormonal attractant that brought them to the attention of mosquitoes more than men. Even menstruation and ovulation could be factors in this. But such an attractant was never found. Gender does not now seem to be the all-important factor in mosquito "bite" susceptibility, according to The Register.

One interesting factor that caught my attention especially was about banana; since I love to eat banana. It was said that if you like to eat banana, you will tend to attract more mosquitoes. There is no scientific proof to confirm the connection however. It was speculated that eating of banana released scent of banana that seeps from your pores when you sweat and that attracted the mosquitoes, which can "smell" its human blood meal from a distance of up to 50 kilometres (30 miles) away. This was immediately refuted by some who said that it did not work for them as they do take bananas but still end up with more mosquito bites.

In so speaking, how do you know if you have a higher risk of being a target, and just what kind of people the mosquito is most attracted to? "That's a hard one to answer," says Professor Andrew Spielman of the Harvard School of Public Health, and one of the world's leading experts on the mosquito. The combination of the reasons above of how mosquitoes find their targets could be why some people are more prone to bites than to other. If you are one of those getting more bites, you might want to see which of the above reason/s that could contribute to you getting more bites. Since it has been said that diet may be one of the contributing factors, you may like to think about what are the food that you are taking more compare to others.

Until there is a confirmed report of why mosquitoes are more attracted to some people than others, the only thing we can do for ourselves now is to equip ourselves with a good insect repellent especially if we expect mosquitoes in the places that we are heading to.

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2 Comments:

OpenID housewife9988 said...

Randomly here to surf but found your article wonderful esp. you described mosq. love to bite you as you smell better or so.. hahaha..

Sort like this blog has been stopped for a while, why no more other articles?

11:22 PM  
Anonymous BK said...

LOL! I'm focusing on the main blog Symphony of Love now so not posting as much here.

9:03 PM  

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