Research reveals why some people are constantly under attack from the bloodsucking insects, while others walk free.
For those unfortunate enough to feature highly on the mosquito hit list, summer nights are synonymous with mosquito bites. Yet others hardly ever get bitten. So how do the bloodthirsty insects select their victims?
Scientists rubbed petri dishes against their stomachs. The mosquito season gives rise to countless speculations about possible solutions to the age-old mystery of mosquito preferences.
The insects’ tastes may seem arbitrary. However, research reveals that when mosquitoes make their choice between potential victims, it all comes down to scent:
Mosquitoes are attracted by carbon dioxide and heat, which everyone gives off. But mosquitoes are also attracted by certain scents.Karl-Martin Vagn Jensen. According to Jensen, it has not yet been established exactly what the scents in question are. But research does indicate that some scents are more attractive to mosquitoes than others.
“The mosquitoes repeatedly landed on some of the petri dishes, but didn’t go anywhere near the others. “
Vitamin B does not scare off mosquitoes. The experiment is one of several to squash one of the many myths concerning the unfortunate art of mosquito attraction.
While some believe that it is in fact sour blood that keeps the insects at bay, or that the mosquitoes can detect blood disease, others are convinced that vitamin B provides protection against mosquitoes.
Perhaps taking inspiration from popular fiction, there are also those who swear by garlic as an excellent repellent against the winged bloodsuckers. According to the researcher, though unsubstantiated, this strategy may not be entirely fruitless:
The only reliable method of protection against mosquitoes is to use one of the effective repellents that are sold over the counter. Mosquito repellent contains some smells that confuse the mosquitoes. The first thing a mosquito does when looking for prey is to see if there are any animals or people in the vicinity.
“When the mosquito comes closer, it uses smell, heat and carbon dioxide to decide whether to bite. But if it is confused by a repellent, it will never get that far,” says Jensen. However, even repellents do not provide complete protection against the persistent insects.