Recently, scientists at Rothamsted Research in the UK discovered
that some people produce chemicals that smell bad to mosquitoes,
masking the chemicals that usually attract the mosquitos.
James Logan and John Pickett (Vince, 2006) devised some unique
ways of testing body odor. First, they had two different people
put one hand into each end of a chamber and the investigators watched
which hand the mosquitoes preferred. Then they selected the person
who was not preferred (who felt lucky up to this point)
and sealed their body in foil to collect their sweat. Talk about
an unpleasant experiment. The researchers set about analyzing the
body chemicals and are now waiting to patent the results in hopes
of producing a natural insect repellent.
The female mosquito is the one that bites (males feed on flower
nectar). She requires blood to produce eggs. Her mouthparts are
constructed so that they pierce the skin, literally sucking the
blood out. Her saliva lubricates the opening. It’s the saliva
plus the injury to the skin that creates the stinging and irritation
we associate with mosquito bites.
Unfortunately, mosquitoes are carriers for a host of diseases,
including malaria, yellow fever, West Nile virus, and Dengue fever.
There are hundreds of species of mosquitoes belonging to the family Culicidae.
Since they breed in standing water, a way to eliminate them around
the home is to remove objects where water collects, such as cans,
buckets, old tires, and refreshing the water in bird baths at least
once a week. Turn water barrels upside down during the winter,
Insect repellents often contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide)
although there are more natural ingredients available, such as
eucalyptus oil extract. You can try to limit your exposure to mosquitoes
when outdoors by using a fan or by covering exposed skin with light
colored clothing and a hat. Mosquitoes tend to be more of a problem
from dusk to dawn.
A. N. The biology of mosquitoes. London, New
York, Chapman & Hall, 1992. 509 p.
Martin. What mosquitoes want: secrets of host attraction. Science,
v. 298, Oct. 4, 2002: 90-92.
Mark S., and John F. Day. Comparative efficacy of insect
repellents against mosquito bites. New England journal
of medicine, v. 347, July 4, 2002: 13-18.
James. Don't get stung: outsmarting the mosquito. New
York times, v. 152, July 1, 2003: F5.
Y. E., M. I. Elbashir, and I. Adam. Attractiveness of
pregnant women to the malaria vector, Anopheles arabiensis,
in Sudan. Annals of tropical medicine and parasitology,
v. 98, Sept. 2004: 631-633.
William Robert. Mosquitoes: their bionomics and relation
to disease. New York, Hafner, 1972, c1955. 723 p.
N. Allergy to mosquito bites. Revue francaise d’allergologie
et d’immunologie clinique, v. 46, Apr. 2006:
Royal Society. London Exhibition, 2006. Why me? Available:
Adam S, Paul A. Carbonaro, and Robert A. Schwartz. Insect
bite reactions: an update. Dermatology, v. 202, no. 3,
Gaia. Revealed: what mosquitoes hate about humans. NewScientist.com
news service. 11:34 04 July 2006. Use keywords to find
bugs don't bite a lucky few. New Scientist, v. 185, Jan.
22, 2005: 17.
Abigail. The mystery of itch, the joy of scratch. New
York times, v. 152, July 1, 2003: F1, F5.
more print resources...
Search on "Mosquito," "Mosquitoes," "Mosquitoes
as carriers of disease," "Pesticides," "Malaria," or "West
in the Library of Congress Online
southern house mosquito. Medical Encyclopedia, Medline Plus.
Mosquito. From the USGS Web site.
of Culex salinarius mosquitos. From
the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center,
Scientific Visualization Studio.
her hand as bait, this researcher draws mosquitos into a cylindrical
trap. From the Center for Medical, Agricultural & Veterinary
hood. From the National Park Service Web site. Photographer
- Don Pendergrast.
larvae of Anopheles vestitipennis, a potentially important vector
of malaria, occur in cattail marsh habitats. From NASA Earth
Observatory Web site.
mosquito repellent - From the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention Web site.