A recent study published in the journal iScience looked at different types of scented soaps to see which ones were more (or less) attractive to mosquitoes, discovering one scent that attracts them the most and another that might repel them. In this photogallery we look at the results of this study to provide as comprehensive an overview as possible to help combat the annoying problem of mosquito bites. (source: iScience)
Mosquitoes are attracted to scent because they feed on sweet-smelling flowers. For this reason, washing with perfumed products attracts these insects. However, it must be kept in mind that a person’s scent is the result of a combination of hundreds of chemicals, some of which are produced by the body, while others are produced by bacteria that inhabit our skin. And each of these combinations is unique to each individual.
The scientists thus identified the key to the problem: the combination of scents between the human body and the products used. The lead author of the study, Clement Vinauger, an assistant professor of biochemistry at Virginia Tech who studies the molecular genetics of how mosquitoes choose their prey, said: ‘What really matters is how the chemicals in the soap combine with the chemicals in the individual person.
Specifically, four types of scented products that are applied to the skin were examined: the product brands used for the experiment were Dial, Dove, Native and Simple Truth. The products chosen had different chemical compositions and fragrances.
Four volunteers were each asked to wash themselves with a different product, after which they wore nylon sleeves on both arms for one hour. The sleeves soaked in the scented product were then placed in cups and placed in a cage full of mosquitoes: the scent that attracted the most mosquitoes was deemed the most attractive.
The results of the experiment indicate that citrus fragrances, generally known to repel mosquitoes, instead seemed to attract them. As for the scents that are supposed to repel them, the results were generally weak and variable for all but one of the chemical scents tested: coconut. However, the scientists are not sure whether it is the coconut perfume that repels mosquitoes or whether it enhances one of the chemicals naturally present on human skin that is a repellent; moreover, they stated that they are not sure whether this applies to all naturally occurring mosquito species. In any case, the coconut-scented product was the one with the most satisfactory results.
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