The rain is back, the days are warm and pools of stagnant water are lying everywhere. For those enjoying balmy evenings outdoors, this means only one thing –Australia’s mosquito bite season is officially under way.
Mosquito’s are known for their itchy bites and for spreading malaria among people and animals. In 2010 the malaria was the cause of death for 1.2 million people most of whom were African children.
French scientists conducted an odd study while trying to curb their way around the malaria disease. Since it occurs often among African people and since beer is the drink of choice on the African continent, the researchers used beer as their main factor. During the study 43 participant were served three cans of beer or the equivalent amount of water. Later the participants were exposed to mosquitos.
The study led to a shocking revelation: beer attracts mosquitos. Those participants, who were served beer, were 30% more attractive to the winged bloodsuckers rather than those who were served water. According to the researchers, any other type of alcohol could affect the mosquitos the same way. Nevertheless, the French scientists are still not really sure what is the reason behind it.
Mosquitoes also target people who produce excess amounts of certain acids, such as uric acid, explains entomologist John Edman, PhD, spokesman for the Entomological Society of America. These substances can trigger mosquitoes’ sense of smell, luring them to land on unsuspecting victims.
It’s not just the natural odour of skin that is responsible for attracting or deterring mosquitoes.
Dutch researchers have found that the volume and nature of the bacteria that live naturally in our skin can make a difference too.
A study published in the Public Library of Science journal in 2011 on African mosquitoes showed that people with large numbers of skin bacteria were more attractive to mosquitoes.
A Japanese study in 2004, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, found that mozzies landed on people with group O blood almost twice as often as those with group A. Those with group B were in the middle.
Around 40 per cent of people have group O blood.
The reason why some blood groups are preferable to mosquitoes is a mystery.