mosquitoes love you?
Blame Your Genes:
If you've ever had the inkling that mosquitoes just seem to prefer
biting you over other people around you... you may not be wrong! The
results of a new study, performed on sets of twins, suggests there is a
genetic factor that affects the degree to which mosquitoes crave our
blood.The authors of the new study, performed at the London School of
Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, explain:
"Female mosquitoes display preferences for certain individuals over
others, which is determined by differences in volatile chemicals
produced by the human body and detected by mosquitoes. Body odour can be
controlled genetically but the existence of a genetic basis for
differential attraction to insects has never been formally
demonstrated." In order to demonstrate this genetic basis for the first
time, the pilot study analyzed sets of both identical and non-identical
twins. Specifically, 18 identical twins, and 19 non-identical twins (all
of them female), were analyzed. Participants placed their hands under
one side of a Y-shaped tube, and mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti dengue
mosquitoes, to be exact) above were able to fly down either one or the
other side of the tube, depending on which direction attracted them
Results of the analysis showed that the identical twins were more
similarly attractive to mosquitoes than the twins who were not
identical. This in itself suggests a genetic factor, and the researchers
hypothesize a genetic variable that controls body odour is at play. They
also suggest that individuals who do not draw mosquitoes as readily
genetically produce a natural repellent.
The study authors wrote:
results demonstrate an underlying genetic component to the human odour
profile, a genetic difference that is detectable by mosquitoes through
our odour and used during host selection."The researchers hope that this
study can be used to further research, which can develop better ways of
controlling mosquitoes. However, there are many completely natural
things we can do to protect ourselves from the critters - and
chemical-based repellents are not the healthiest answer.
These repellents can not only be irritating to the skin and eyes,
they may in some cases lead to other health problems, as well. Be
especially wary of bug sprays that contain DEET. This compound has been
linked to dizziness, nausea, rashes, numb lips, and headaches. Some
research performed on rats has even linked DEET to changes in behaviour.
Of course, it is important to take measures to protect against
mosquitoes - especially if you live in a tropical or subtropical
climate. As we've recently covered, chikungunya fever, a virus new to
this part of the world, has been spreading via mosquitoes.
Luckily, nature has the answer. Check out our article on how to
naturally repel mosquitoes, and how to ease the stinging and swelling of
their bites if they do occur. If you follow these tips, you'll find
yourself enjoying a much less itchy summer!
-The Alternative Daily