Mosquitoes aren't just annoying. They're dangerous. These little bloodsuckers cause millions of deaths every year by transmitting malaria and other potentially deadly illnesses. Regardless of whether mosquitoes have gotten on your nerves because they buzzed your last cookout or raised your concern about global disease, there's something else that may bug you, too.
As our host Ben Bowlin explains in the video above, mosquitoes don't affect everyone in the same way. Smell, body temperature and genetics all play an important role in whether a person is attractive to mosquitoes. The bloodsuckers are particularly fond of carbon dioxide and lactic acid, which is present on the skin after physical activity. Surprisingly, diet and blood type don't seem to matter much.
But there's more on the odor front. Each human body produces up to 400 distinct chemical odors, some of which mosquitoes avoid and some of which they're drawn to. Scientists have figured out that two types of chemical odors that people emit repel mosquitoes: 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one, which smells like nail polish remover, and geraynal acetone, which has a floral scent. As you might guess, these two odors are being explored as repellents.
In addition to the built-in bug repellent emitted by a lucky few, some people have a chance of building up a tolerance to mosquito bites, while some will be left to wish for one.
Can you naturally avoid being on the mosquito menu? Forego your instinctual urge to smack on-screen mosquitoes and watch this episode to learn more.