Mosquitoes: Why do they bite you?

(WSVN) - Do you ever feel like mosquitoes are attracted more to you than other people? Well, you’re not imagining things! 7’s Sheldon Fox explains the science behind what makes you tastier to mosquitoes.

While most of us are running away from mosquitoes, Dr. Matthew DeGennaro surrounds himself with them every day in his lab at Florida International University.

Dr. Matthew DeGennaro, FIU Laboratory of Mosquito Genetics & Behavior: “You are in my insectary. We have different strains of mosquitoes.”

Dr. DeGennaro is determined to find out what mosquitoes are attracted to.

Dr. DeGennaro: “I plan on trying to understand how mosquitoes find people. That’s going to be my life’s work.”

Unlike humans, who are very visual, he says insects experience the world through smell and taste.

Dr. DeGennaro: “They see the world in kind of a chemical way, where we see the world in more of a visual way.”

And they have favorite flavors! So you’re not imagining things if you think the bugs are flocking to you and not your friend.

Dr. DeGennaro: “There’s more and more evidence that mosquitoes have a different taste for different people. It’s either you’re more attractive or less repellent.”

So what makes some people more tasty than others? The doctor says it may have something to do with bacteria on your skin and how it reacts with your sweat.

Dr. DeGennaro: “There is bacteria on our skin, OK? This is natural, normal. The bacteria are changing that sweat and making your unique odor.”

Some studies suggest that pregnant women are more attractive to mosquitoes.

Another ingredient that may make you more enticing to mosquitoes? Beer!

Dr. DeGennaro: “People consume beer, and then somehow it changes their odor by somehow affecting their metabolism.”

Dr. DeGennaro hopes to one day create the next generation of bug repellents, and he believes the key to that discovery could be buzzing around in his lab right now.

Dr. DeGennaro: “Use that information to hopefully make a difference in people’s lives.”

Dr. DeGennaro says the best defense against mosquitoes right now is DEET.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Dr. Degennaro’s Lab:
http://www.degennarolab.org/

Fiu Department of Biological Sciences:
http://biology.fiu.edu/portfolio/matthew-degennaro/

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