Let's know about mosquito magnate
A new study finds that some people really are "mosquito magnets" and it probably has to do with the way they smell.
The researchers found that people who are most attractive to mosquitoes produce a lot of certain chemicals on their skin that are tied to smell.
"If you have high levels of this stuff on your skin, you're going to be the one at the picnic getting all the bites,"
said study author Leslie Vosshall, a neurobiologist at Rockefeller University in New York.
There's a lot of folklore about who gets bitten more but many claims aren't backed up with strong evidence, said Vosshall.
To put mosquito magnetism to the test, the researchers designed an experiment pitting people's scents against each other, explained study author Maria Elena De Obaldia.
They asked 64 volunteers from the university and nearby to wear nylon stockings around their forearms to pick up their skin smells.
The stockings were put in separate traps at the end of a long tube, then dozens of mosquitos were released.
The experiment used the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads diseases like yellow fever, Zika and dengue.
Vosshall said she'd expect similar results from other kinds, but would need more research to confirm.
Mosquito magnets had high levels of certain acids on their skin.
These "greasy molecules" are part of the skin's natural moisturizing layer, and people produce them in different amounts, Vosshall said.
The healthy bacteria that live on the skin eat up these acids and produce part of our skin's odor profile, she said.
"Mosquitoes are resilient," Vosshall said. "They have many backup plans to be able to find us and bite us."
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