You know the story, you’re out hiking with some friends and you’re the only one who returns home covered in mosquito bites to suffer alone. Tasty blood you’ve always assumed. Scientists haven’t know what exactly might make one person’s blood more appealing than another, but now they have an idea.
Recent research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was done on mosquito dietary habits. The researchers used 18 sets of identical twins and 19 sets of fraternal twins, since identical twins share the same DNA.
To do the experiment, they had each twin put a hand into a “Y” shaped tube and then let mosquitoes have at them. They then recorded which twin’s hand the mosquito preferred. The research showed that the mosquitoes were more likely to equally prefer the identical twins hands than the fraternal twins, coming to the conclusion that there’s something about the DNA that is appealing.
One thought it that it is simply the smell of someone’s skin, since DNA has a lot to do with that. It has so much to do with scent in fact, that other research has shown that professional sniffers can sniff out identical twins. (Yes, there are expert sniffers in the world.)
This still doesn’t give us any tips for dealing with mosquitoes if we happen to have been blessed with delicious blood and/or skin scents, but it does mean that researchers have some ideas to work with. It’s possible that in the future we’ll actually be able to take a pill to become a personal bug repeller instead of having to apply the stuff which may or not work anyway.
Until then, always try and do your outside activities with a friend who’s even more popular with the bugs than you.
Do you have any tips for getting mosquitoes to buzz off? Let us know!