Some people are bitten wildly, while others are spared. Are mosquitos picky? However, the probability or risk of a mosquito bite is not determined by sweet blood, as it is commonly known. Mosquitoes have special preferences for the blood of pregnant women and special genetic makeup. But why do mosquitoes bite certain people more often? Let’s find out.
The answer lies in the investigation of identical and dizygotic twins. Apparently, certain genes determine the body odor on which the mosquitoes preference stands. Better means of defense against mosquitoes can be developed based on this genetic preference.
Mosquitoes do not react to food
There is a common misconception that food or nutrition is the reason for the difference in susceptibility. Garlic and beer should, therefore, protect against stings. However, this has not been proven in scientific studies. On the other hand, it has already been shown that body odor influences the risk of mosquito bites. However, the underlying mechanism is still unclear.
An experiment shows that mosquitoes prefer certain people
The research was conducted where the researchers used a special test course. They let tiger mosquitoes fly in a tube that split into two paths like a Y after a short distance. Depending on the preferred smell, the mosquitoes could choose one of the two channels. At the top of each channel was a test subject’s hand. Participants were 18 identical and 19 dizygotic female pairs, whose genetic makeup differs significantly from that of other siblings.
The evaluation showed that the popularity of the identical twins among mosquitoes was very similar. The dizygotic twins, on the other hand, were coveted to varying degrees. This indicates that genes influence the risk of mosquito bites.
Mosquito genes are inherited similarly as body size
Heredity for mosquito preference is almost as pronounced as for body size and intelligence. Though further investigations need to be conducted to find the decisive genes and their control mechanisms.
With mature knowledge, tailor-made means for better mosquito control, and new defense mechanisms can be developed. These means will also allow better protection against the diseases that the insects can transmit. For example, against Tiger mosquitoes that cause infections with dengue fever.
Mosquitoes love certain Blood groups more than others
In addition to the genes, the blood group also plays a role in whether the mosquitoes go crazy for blood or not at all. A chemical signal on the skin allows the insects to perceive the blood group in most people. People with blood group 0 are particularly attractive to mosquitoes. They are twice as often the target of insects as their fellow human beings with blood group A. Blood group B lies in between in the mosquito ranking.
Blocked sense of smell could ward off mosquitoes
In another experiment, US scientists had genetically manipulated the smell of two mosquito species so that they could no longer smell humans. Although mosquitoes have other location tactics to track the blood. Some researchers are also working on a chemical ‘stealth cap’. It is an active ingredient that blocks the olfactory cells of the mosquitoes, with which they perceive the tempting scent of human skin and the exhaled carbon dioxide.