Mosquitoes’ ability to transmit deadly diseases such as dengue fever and Zika makes them a scourge for all of humanity. But they clearly favor some people over others. A simple hygiene change can change how attractive you are to mosquitoes, a new study suggests.
According to the website Technology NetworksA recent study in the journal iScience has been published, showing that some soaps can repel or attract mosquitoes. The exact effect of each soap seems to vary, as the scent of the soap interacts with each person’s unique sense of smell.
Clement Winoger, a neuroscientist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, explains the magnitude of this effect: “The same person who is very attractive to mosquitoes when not using soap can become more attractive to them as a result of using a particular soap or after using another soap as a repellent. Let the mosquitoes act.”
Humans have been using soap and other hygiene products with a strong smell since ancient times. We know that these substances change the smell that others hear about us, but it has not been investigated how these substances might affect the smell that insects perceive of us.
To answer this question, the researchers classified the odor emitted by four human volunteers before and after washing with four soaps from different brands (Dow, Dial, Native, and Simple Truth) in terms of their attractiveness to mosquitoes. As expected, each volunteer’s odor was unique, with some odors being more attractive to mosquitoes than others. After washing with soap, these profiles changed rapidly.
Chloé Lahunder, one of the authors of the study, added: “Soaps change our smell drastically; “Not just by adding chemicals, but by altering the compounds we naturally produce.”
Not all mosquitoes are bloodthirsty. Male mosquitoes only feed on plant nectar, while females feed on blood after mating. As a result, the researchers conducted their experiment on female mosquitoes that had mated. Carbon dioxide emitted by human exhalation can also irritate mosquitoes, so the researchers took this into account in their study.