Scientists have revealed why some people are more inclined to mosquito bites than others and busted the top myths that claim to keep the blood-sucking critters away.
American entomologist Dan Kline has spent years studying the insects and thinks he’s come across significant clues to explain their behaviour.
One of the more strange findings he made was that mosquitos were drawn to stinky feet.
In particular, they were attracted to a bacteria that gave off the same smell as Limburger cheese.
Dr Dan Kline conducted a study in the 1990s to determine if mosquitos were more attracted to certain kinds of cheese based on smell.
He experimented with different variations and found blue cheese and Limburger were the most popular.
Dr Kline then presented them with a pair of smelly socks he’d been wearing for four days and found the mosquitos were instantly drawn to them.
He pointed out the connection between the stinky feet and Limburger made sense as the cheese was traditionally produced by barefoot monks, and he told ABC that the monks used their feet in the production of this cheese, therefore the toe bacteria was involved in the production of Limburger cheese.
Dr Kline also found that mosquitos were attracted to odours produced by bacteria cultivated on human skin as well as volatile chemicals that were exhaled out of the mouth.
He learned his colleague naturally produced a chemical that dulled the sense of smell in mosquitos and was less likely to be bitten by one, and he said her proportion of this compound compared to other compounds was more elevated.
Other factors included body heat, genetics, and what cosmetic products you wear, and some people’s skin reacts to bites differently and they may not even notice them.
Different mosquitos are also drawn to different regions of the body, some that certain people cover and others don’t as much.
Dr Norris said that there are plenty of mosquitoes that are known to be ankle-biters or face biters, so there’s presumably volatiles on those different regions of the body that are attracting them.
Medical entomologist Cameron Webb has also lent a hand to understanding the behaviours of the mosquitos and dispelled several myths about types of food that are supposed to repel the insects.
Eating bananas and drinking beer is generally thought to be an attracting force for mosquitos, while garlic and Vitamin B supplements are supposed to be repellants, but Dr Cameron Webb revealed those were actually old wive’s tales.
For some people who get bitten a lot, nothing appears to work, not even the most powerful bug spray and you could be standing outside with 200 people and yet every single mosquito would come straight for you, and the little blighters will bite right through your clothing, but perhaps what we all need to do is make sure that we’re clean and that our feet are bathed regularly. However, I’m still trying to mentally process the cheese and the feet!
I’m not so sure about the stinky feet conclusion. My mum used to tell me it was because I had sweet blood. They seemed to enjoy biting me more when I was younger but not so much as I’ve got older, and generally, I don’t have smelly feet, and never really have, so I’m not sure the stinky feet conclusion is a conclusion at all, and in some regions of the world, mosquitos don’t discriminate, everyone is live bait.