Tuesday, 21 May 2013

mosquitoes love me

our room gets stuffy so aditya and i open the window to let some fresh air in every day, and inevitably, mosquitoes wander in too. they've been eating me alive this quarter, which i'm kind of resigned to at this point, but to add insult to injury i don't think aditya's gotten a single bite yet.

aditya's all suave about it—he says stuff like "awww don't worry, it's just because you're so sweet"—ha. it made me start wondering what the actual reason for mosquitoes picking one person over another is though, so i looked into it a little.

turns out our skin gives off odorants that are metabolites of natural biological processes, and mosquito antennae bind them and sense our presence that way. which metabolites we generate and how many mosquitoes we attract are most strongly influenced by the amount of carbon dioxide in our breath, pregnancy, alcohol consumption and blood type.

so far as i know, neither aditya nor i are pregnant. i'll have to check with him to make sure but i'm pretty certain that one's not a factor here. type O blood is the most attractive to mosquitoes, but i'm not type O and i'm not sure what aditya is. however, different genotype lead to different levels of blood metabolite secretion, so i might just be putting off more of a signal than him. increased carbon dioxide emission in breath and increased body temperature (both on its own and as a result of alcohol consumption) also attract mozzies—not sure who's breathing out more CO2 between the 2 of us, but aditya doesn't drink and i'll have a beer or glass of wine after dinner every now and then, so that may be a deciding factor. mosquito bites or giving up beer? why does the universe give me these terrible choices?


read more here: http://scienceline.org/2007/09/ask-knight-mosquitoes/

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