Some People Are Mosquito Magnets

News

The amount of fatty acid your body emits can determine whether mosquitos are drawn to you, according to scientists at Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior.

What to Know

  • Using chemical analysis techniques, 50 molecular compounds were identified as being loved by mosquitos, and they were all found in elevated quantities in the moisturizing barrier on the skin called sebum.

  • Bacteria uses the carboxylic acids in our skin’s sebum to create unique body odors, and mosquitos are particularly attracted to people who produce high levels of the carboxylic acids.

  • Orco (odorant receptor co-receptor) and IR receptors are the two classes of odors that humans produce that are detected by mosquitoes. The Orco receptors are a particularly strong attractor.

  • The female Aedes aegypti mosquito relies on its ability to smell blood to live and reproduce, so its olfactory system has multiple redundancies that enable it to track scents on humans.

  • While we can’t stop mosquitos from smelling, we may be able to manipulate our skin microbiomes to provide a mosquito-masking effect.

This is a summary of the article “Why Some People Are Mosquito Magnets,” published in The Rockefeller University News on October 18, 2022. The full article can be found on Rockefeller.edu.

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