AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Do mosquitos bug some people more than others?

Over time, many have questioned whether or not some people are more susceptible, or attractive, to mosquitoes than others. Some have thought that it was one’s blood type, some have thought it was due to smell, and some have thought that the idea is truly a myth. It was highly suggested that attraction to mosquitos was due to scent, but never confirmed if true and what scents they would be attracted to.

Aedes aegypti during blood meal

A recent study has that scent is the answer to attraction of mosquitoes, and what scents they prefer the most. In this study, participants were asked to wear stockings on their arms for 6 hours, to imbue the stocking with each person’s unique smell. The researchers then put one piece of a volunteer’s stocking next to a piece of another observer’s stocking, and monitored whether or not the mosquitoes seemed to prefer one stocking over the other. The researchers concluded the mosquitoes definitely appeared to prefer certain stockings over others, one of the stockings in particular had “an attractiveness score ‘over 100 times greater’ than that of the least attractive subjects”. 



After the study, the researchers found that mosquitoes preferred stockings with more carboxylic acids. Carboxylic acids are organic compounds, which are produced by humans on our skin, moisturizing us, protecting us, and producing a sweaty smell on our skin. From the time we are born, us humans keep a constant Carboxylic-acidlevel of carboxylic acids on our skins, meaning that for the most part, our “attractiveness” towards mosquitoes is level for our entire lives. 




You might think that this is the end, that this study has proven that there is no hope for you to lose the status of “mosquito magnet” if you already are susceptible to mosquito bites, but this is not true. This study leads the way in future projects to reduce mosquito bites in mankind, as it revealed what the true issue we had to attack was. A biologist who specializes in mosquito research, Omar Akbari, has stated he is using the research to aid him in the development of mosquito repellents that will work for long periods of time(months). Akbari has already discovered specific carboxylic acids that mosquitoes are particularly attracted to, and is working with the Department of Defense to aid them in their work in insect control. He is working alongside the US government to develop these repellents, truly proving that there is hope for those who feel they are 


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1 Comment

  1. deukaryota

    Hi Hypotheoni, I really enjoyed reading your post, and I loved how relevant it is to everyday life. In your post, you said that the mosquitoes were attracted to the chemical that produced a “sweaty smell,” and that the more of this chemical an arm had, the more strongly the mosquitoes were attracted to it. I was curious if perfumes also attracted mosquitoes even though they do not smell sweaty, and says that they are, in fact, attracted to many perfumes, especially ones with floral scents. Since both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar from flowers, and only female mosquitoes feed on animal blood, I would be interested to test if only females were attracted to the sweaty-smelling arms, since that is what they feed on in nature. Thanks again for your great post!

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