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posted by janrinok on Tuesday May 23 2023, @03:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the cleanliness-is-next-to-no-ouchie dept.

Are you a mosquito magnet? It might be for one unpleasant reason:

New research has found that smelly armpits may turn some people into a mosquito magnet.

This is apparently the reason that some people are so plagued by the annoying critters — while others get off scot-free, according to scientists.

The pesky insects are drawn to body odor, also known as BO — and mosquitoes can find us from 350 feet away once they get a whiff, according to SWNS, the British news service.

The new findings are based on the African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae, which was let loose in an ice rink-sized outdoor testing arena in Zambia.

Said the study's lead author, Dr. Diego Giraldo, a neuroscientist, "This is the largest system to assess olfactory preference for any mosquito in the world. And it is a very busy sensory environment for the mosquitoes," as SWNS reported.

The team from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, released 200 hungry mosquitoes each night and used infrared motion cameras to observe how often they landed on evenly spaced pads heated to 35ºC — mimicking human skin, the report said.

It was a good sign they were ready to bite.

Body odor was apparently a more attractive bait than CO2 — a known cue for mosquitoes.

But further tests showed that the swarm of 200 individuals were also choosy. The aromas of six volunteers sleeping in surrounding single-person tents were piped onto the pads over six consecutive nights.

It enabled the researchers to record the mosquitoes' preferences and collect nightly air samples from the tents to compare airborne components of body odor.

Senior author Dr. Conor McMeniman, a vector biologist, said, "These mosquitoes typically hunt humans in the hours before and after midnight," as SWNS also reported.

"They follow scent trails and convective currents emanating from humans, and typically they will enter homes and bite between around 10 p.m. and 2 a.m."

He added, "We wanted to assess mosquito olfactory preferences during the peak period of activity when they are out and about and active — and also assess the odor from sleeping humans during that same time window."

Night after night, some people were more attractive to mosquitoes than others, the study found.

One volunteer, who had a strikingly different odor, consistently attracted very few mosquitoes, the study noted.

The study also identified 40 chemicals that all of the humans emitted — though at different rates.

Said lead co-author Dr. Stephanie Rankin-Turner, an analytical chemist, "It is probably a ratio-specific blend they are following ... We don't really know yet exactly what aspect of skin secretions, microbial metabolites or breath emissions are really driving this, but we are hoping we will be able to figure that out in the coming years."


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by looorg on Tuesday May 23 2023, @04:48PM (2 children)

    by looorg (578) on Tuesday May 23 2023, @04:48PM (#1307716)

    I seem to recall that the previous explanation was blood sugar levels, that they could somehow smell. Higher was better and more yummy from the mosquito-perspective. Perhaps they also then smell differently and that is the BO. Otherwise shouldn't mosquitoes be living next to gyms and garbage dumps?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 24 2023, @12:41AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 24 2023, @12:41AM (#1307795)

      And I seem to remember that the hot tip some years back was that mosquitoes had CO2 sensing capability and flew toward higher concentrations -- which would be the exhale of people and other mammals.

      Like another poster here, I get bit even if I just took a shower and scrubbed my armpits, so I tend to stay indoors too... once the mosquitos are out in the spring.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RS3 on Wednesday May 24 2023, @02:32AM

        by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday May 24 2023, @02:32AM (#1307812)

        I'm a mosquito magnet right after a shower.

        Some years ago there were some PBS shows about the Appalachian Trail. They interviewed many hikers. I remember them asking one: "how do you keep the bugs away?" and his response: "don't wash".

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday May 23 2023, @07:24PM (1 child)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 23 2023, @07:24PM (#1307752) Homepage Journal

    As TFS suggests, there is some quality(ies) to the body odor that attracts or doesn't attract mosquitos. Just being stinky isn't the secret. Been out there with guys with really objectionable body odor, and some of them get bit a lot, others not so much. The title suggests the more objectionable your odor is, the more likely you are to be targeted. That suggestion just ain't so.

    --
    Through a Glass, Darkly -George Patton
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by cmdrklarg on Tuesday May 23 2023, @10:02PM

      by cmdrklarg (5048) on Tuesday May 23 2023, @10:02PM (#1307769)

      That tracks with me as well. Little fuckers just LOOOVE me, and no one's ever complained that I have BO (not like that fat bastard in front of me at the grocery store checkout that one time... dear FSM I thought I was going to vomit).

      I like the outdoors, but between the skeeters and my propensity to burn in the sunlight (no I'm not a vampire) I tend to stay indoors.

      --
      The world is full of kings and queens who blind your eyes and steal your dreams.
  • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Tuesday May 23 2023, @09:06PM (4 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Tuesday May 23 2023, @09:06PM (#1307759) Journal

    One idea that's been going around for a few years now is that mosquitoes prefer type O blood. As to why, it could be that blood without the A or B antigens is a tiny bit easier to digest. Their least favorite is type A.

    That mosquitoes can tell a person's blood type before biting is amazing.

    • (Score: 2) by cmdrklarg on Tuesday May 23 2023, @10:06PM

      by cmdrklarg (5048) on Tuesday May 23 2023, @10:06PM (#1307771)

      This also tracks; as I mentioned above they love me, and I am type O.

      --
      The world is full of kings and queens who blind your eyes and steal your dreams.
    • (Score: 1) by shrewdsheep on Wednesday May 24 2023, @08:37AM (2 children)

      by shrewdsheep (5215) on Wednesday May 24 2023, @08:37AM (#1307854)

      [citation needed]

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