Mosquitoes are attracted to humans by using a whole range of cues including the CO2 we exhale, our body heat and our body odours. Some people are more attractive than others and we all know someone that claims to be a “mosquito magnet” or that “they just love me!” This has led scientists to explore the odours we give off and attempt to understand what makes some people irresistible and what we might be able to do to prevent bites.
Researchers Leslie Vosshall and Maria Elena De Obaldia at The Rockefeller University recently studied these odours and how they are related to our skin microbiota. They found that the fatty acids that emanate from our skin may create a plume of odour that mosquitoes use to find their target. They discovered that certain people were very attractive to mosquitoes and that they released a higher level of carboxylic acids. Contrary, other people gave off less of these acids and were much less attractive to mosquitoes. Unfortunately, they couldn’t maniple the mosquitoes genetically to alter this behaviour, meaning repellents are going to be our main tool against bites.
People have tried a whole range of methods to keep mosquitoes away, including eating onions or garlic or using smoke from fires or cigarettes. The truth is the best way to avoid mosquitoes is to use an approved repellent. Moskito Guard contains 20% Picaridin, a WHO approved repellent, which works to block the scent receptors on the mosquito. This makes it more difficult for them to locate you using these acids on your skin.