Some People Really Are Mosquito Magnets, And They’re Stuck That Way

A blood-engorged female Aedes albopictus mosquito feeding on a human host, 2001. Under experimental conditions the Aedes albopictus mosquito, also known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, has been found to be a vector of West Nile Virus. Aedes is a genus of the Culicine family of mosquitoes. Image courtesy CDC/James Gathany. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

At a glance

  • As you may have noticed, mosquitoes don’t attack everyone equally. Scientists have known that the pests are drawn to people at varying rates, but they have struggled to explain what makes certain people “mosquito magnets” while others get off bite-free.
  • In a new paper published on October 18 in the journal Cell, researchers suggest that certain body odors are the deciding factor.
  • Every person has a unique scent profile made up of different chemical compounds, and the researchers found that mosquitoes were most drawn to people whose skin produces high levels of carboxylic acids.
  • Additionally, the researchers found that peoples’ attractiveness to mosquitoes remained steady over time, regardless of changes in diet or grooming habits.

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