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Why are some people mosquito magnets and others bothersome? A medical entomologist points to metabolism, body odor and mindfulness

It’s rare for people to attend an outdoor party in hot weather without complaining about mosquitoes. They walk away, bask in the smoke of the campfire, covered with blankets and eventually just give up and go inside the house. On the other end of the spectrum, there are many people who don’t seem bothered by mosquitoes in the slightest.

As a medical entomologist who has worked with mosquitoes for over 40 years, I am often asked why some people feel Mosquito magnets while others are oblivious to these blood-feeding insects that buzz around them.

Most mosquito species, along with other arthropods – including ticks, fleas, bedbugs, blackflies, horseflies and biting midges – require proteins in the blood to develop a batch of eggs. Only female mosquitoes suck blood. Males feed on plant nectar, which they convert into energy for flight.

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An incredibly important part of blood-drinking Mosquito reproductive cycle. Because of this, a tremendous amount of evolutionary pressure is placed on female mosquitoes to identify potential sources of blood, quickly and efficiently obtain a complete blood meal, and then secretly release ominous prey. If you check some or all of the mosquito search boxes, you will find that you are a mosquito magnet.

sensing CO2 and smell cues

Depending on when they are active during the day, mosquitoes use sight, sound and olfactory cues to identify a possible source of blood. Most night-active species rely on olfactory or receptor signals. The most important chemical signal is carbon di oxide That all vertebrates, including humans, are released with each breath and through their skin.

Mosquitoes are very sensitive to CO2 and can sense a CO2 source several meters away. Receptor cells on the mosquito’s antennae and legs bind to CO2 molecules and send an electrical signal to the brain. When more molecules hit their receptors, the higher the concentration of CO2 and the closer they are to the host.

However, there are many non-living carbon dioxide sources such as cars, boats, planes and trains. To distinguish living organisms from non-living sources of CO2, mosquitoes rely on secondary olfactory signals that live animals produce.

Metabolic processes such as breathing and walking generate these odor signals including lactic acid, ammonia and fatty acids that act as additional olfactory signals that help female mosquito Zero in on their next blood meal.

So, carbon dioxide production is the first trace of a mosquito magnet. Because the production of CO2 and secondary attractants are linked to metabolic rate, the higher the metabolic rate, the more attractants are produced. Metabolic rate may be genetically determined, but it also increases as a result of physical activity.

The human mosquito magnets you may see at summer parties may have genetically higher metabolic rates or may be more physically active than other attendees.

They may also do other activities that increase their metabolic rate, such as alcohol consumption.

The increased metabolic rate is the reason why runners attract more mosquitoes during their cooldown stretching exercises. pregnant women, probably because of their growth metabolism rates, as well as attract a large number of mosquitoes.

Natural body odors are also important cues used by mosquitoes to select a host. For example, some species of anopheles mosquito Feet are attracted to specific components of odour.

These mosquitoes transmit human malaria and feed indoors at midnight. By feeding on the feet of a sleeping person, mosquitoes avoid the head, where most of the CO2 is produced, and the victim is less likely to wake up.

visual cues

Mosquitoes active during the day and at dawn and dusk also use visual cues to identify a host. Mosquitoes usually fly close to the ground. From this vantage point they look to their potential hosts against the horizon.

Dark colors stand out and lighter colors tend to mix, so the way a person dresses will determine how many mosquitoes they attract. Wearing light colors not only cools you down but also helps in avoiding MosquitoNews of.

Unlike a silhouette facing the horizon, mosquitoes can detect motion again. This is why people who walk near a brackish swamp in the middle of the day following a mass emergence of saltmarsh mosquitoes are inundated with mosquitoes that detect their presence.

psychological factors

There is also a psychological component to mosquito activity. Some people don’t notice mosquitoes around them. A single mosquito flying around some people will elicit a strong reaction – you’ve probably seen someone go crazy trying to track down the droning sound of a mosquito to eliminate the little bloodsucker.

Other individuals are not bothered and do not notice the mosquitoes that are attracted to them, even when the insects are feasting on their blood. some mosquitoes Specialists in feeding the parts of the body that are difficult to see and difficult to swat. For example, Aedes aegypti is a species of mosquito that prefers to eat humans, mostly around the ankles.

Whether you are a mosquito magnet or not, their bite feels like an itch!

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