There are so many mosquitoes outside, and after a walk in the evening, it feels like you’ve been eaten alive after you get ten bites! But not many mosquito species bite. The ones that really love human blood are Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae – and they’re quite dangerous.
Aedes aegypti can spread zika and dengue, while Anopheles gambiae is the carrier of the parasite that causes malaria.
But why do other people get bitten less than others? Mosquitoes have a preference when it comes to getting their snack.
Researchers have an answer for why some people are more likely to get bitten by mosquitoes.
Looking For Humans
To find humans, mosquitoes track the carbon dioxide released by us, but then, other factors make the mosquito choose you or another person from your group of friends.
Compared to animals, humans attract mosquitoes with CO2 and lactic acid. The compounds that complement the scent of a person, making it more likely to get bitten are ammonia, some carboxylic acids, acetone, and sulcatone.
But when it comes to choosing between humans, the mosquito is attracted by our microbiota which lives on the skin’s surface.
Our body is the perfect host for non-pathogenic bacteria and fungi. They also live on our skin, inside the pores or hair follicles, and emanate an odor telling mosquitoes if we’re tasty or not.
One square centimeter of skin contains almost 1 meter of bacteria, which is not easily spread through human contact. This means that mosquitoes choose their lunch according to what bacteria and fungi we have on our skin.
Altering Our Microbiota
We can influence our microbiota composition by altering our environment, which means we could do it through changing what we eat or where we live. Things that we eat, touch and use for washing influences the microbiota.
Even genetics makes our skin more or less hospitable to some species of microbes, thus influencing the likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes. Genetics can control the production of proteins in the skin, preventing the growth of microbes.
An oily or sweaty skin attracts some microbes that ultimately attract mosquitoes.
Now that we know why we’re a tasty (or not) snack for mosquitoes, the next step is to find out which bacterial composition on the skin makes us a disgusting meal for mosquitoes, to prevent bites and diseases.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere