Recent research has discovered that certain individuals with smelly armpits are more likely to be targeted by mosquitoes. This sheds light on why some people are constantly bothered by these pesky insects while others remain untouched, as scientists have found a connection between body odor and mosquito attraction.
According to the British news service SWNS, mosquitoes have a keen sense of smell and can detect human body odor, also known as BO, from a distance of 350 feet. This olfactory sensitivity explains why they can find us so easily. Additionally, mosquitoes are carriers of dangerous diseases, making their preference for smelly armpits all the more concerning.
The study, led by neuroscientist Dr. Diego Giraldo from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, utilized an outdoor testing arena in Zambia that was the size of an ice rink. Inside the arena, researchers released 200 hungry mosquitoes each night and used infrared motion cameras to observe their landing patterns on pads heated to 35ºC, simulating human skin.
The researchers discovered that body odor was more attractive to mosquitoes than carbon dioxide (CO2), which is a well-known mosquito attractant. They further conducted tests by exposing the mosquitoes to the aromas of six volunteers sleeping in individual tents surrounding the testing area. Nightly air samples were collected from these tents to analyze the airborne components of body odor and determine the mosquitoes' preferences.
Senior author Dr. Conor McMeniman, a vector biologist, highlighted that these mosquitoes typically seek out humans in the hours before and after midnight. They navigate by following scent trails and convective currents emanating from humans. Their peak activity is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., during which they tend to enter homes and bite unsuspecting victims.
Throughout the study, it became evident that certain individuals were more attractive to mosquitoes than others. Notably, one volunteer with a distinct odor consistently attracted very few mosquitoes.
These findings provide valuable insights into the factors that influence mosquito preferences and highlight the role of body odor in attracting these bloodsucking insects. By better understanding the mechanisms behind mosquito attraction, researchers can develop more effective strategies to prevent mosquito-borne diseases and alleviate the annoyance caused by their bites.