Mosquitoes Prefer Attractive People
Mosquitoes do not randomly perch on just anybody, but choose
their victims selectively, searching for the most aromatically appealing
humans, according to a study released recently.
"Mosquitoes use odor to sort attractive people from the unattractive to
find those that are the most tasty," said University of Florida
entomologist, Jerry Butler, in a statement.
In a study of what attracted mosquitoes to people, Butler said he worked
off a theory that they go for humans who provide the richest source of
cholesterol and B vitamins, which the pesky insects need to live on but do not
Butler found one sure way to stop attracting them - stop breathing. He
said that mosquitoes can sniff out an attractive human dinner target from as
far away as 64.3 km.
When human beings exhale, they expel a plume of carbon dioxide and
other odors that travel through the air. The appetizing concoction is the
olfactory equivalent of a dinner bell, alerting mosquitoes that a warm meal is
within range. Perspiration, a barely avoidable human condition, is also a
mosquito lure - but only if the sweat has marinated and formed bacteria.
When a mosquito is trailing an attractive target, it zig zags following the
breath plume until it makes contact, landing on the skin and patiently
searches for just the right spot to insert its stylet for an 8-to-10 second
Bathing helps reduce the attractiveness of sticky bodies but strangely
enough after-bath products do not. Skin care products that clean, soften and moisturize may improve a person's appearance, but are also tantalizing to
mosquitoes. Butler said. Certain medications, including heart and blood
pressure medicine, can also alter a person's likelihood of being bitten.
Butler said that he conducted the research in order to explore the tastes of
mosquitoes and help humans avoid mosquito-borne diseases.
"If you can figure out who, among your friends, is attractive to mosquitoes,
be sure to invite that person to all your outdoor gatherings. You might be able
to spare your other guests from mosquito bites," Butler said.