Few things are as annoying as getting bombarded by mosquitos, except maybe the reason why they always go for you.
We’ve all been there, you’re hanging outside when the whining buzz starts, and then doesn’t stop. You swat and slap but they just keep coming.
To make matters worse, your buddy next to you appears to be completely spared from their attack. Relentless mosquitos can be difficult for even the most seasoned outdoorsman to withstand and can really ruin your outdoor adventures. Now, scientists may be closer to figuring out why you get bombarded while your buddy is spared.
A new study published this month suggests that mosquitos select their victims based on genetics. Those that are bitten less frequently may have a different genetic “smell” the mosquitos pick up on and are deterred by.
Genetically identical twins incur the same level of mosquito attention, while fraternal twins (different genetic makeup) experience variable mosquito attractiveness. Who are the most attractive to mosquitos? Pregnant women and those infected with malaria are known to be highly attractive compared to non-pregnant and uninfected people.
So what are the implications of this study? It could mean good news for outdoorsmen. The more researchers are able to understand about the genetic traits that deter mosquitos the closer they will be to developing an effective repellant. This could be a game changer for the rates of mosquito-carried diseases. As scientists discover more about the genetic differences in terms of mosquito attractiveness they will be able to better protect people from dangerous viruses.
So the next time your mosquito-free friend is boasting while you get bitten, just remind him it’s because his genes are unattractive.