Mosquitoes

Andrew Cockburn afc at gnv.ifas.ufl.edu
Mon Aug 22 09:23:31 EST 1994


In article <shelvey.13.000ED1BC at uk.co.pcr.snd01>, shelvey at uk.co.pcr.snd01 (Rob Shelvey) writes:
> I have a question concerning Mosquitoes.  Why is it that some people get 
> bitten many times, while others in the same vicinity get away with no bites at 
> all ?  Is there a natural repellent given off by some people ?  Can anyone 
> suggest any decent nautral replellents I could use as I am not one of the 
> lucky people who don't get bitten.  Sorry if this subject has already been 
> answered a million times already but I must of missed it.
> 
> Thanks in advance,
> 
> Rob Shelvey.
> 
> ( SHELVEY at UK.CO.PCR.SND01 ) 

The short answer to your questions is nobody knows.

Some long answers:

Nobody knows what attracts mosquitoes to hosts (carbon dioxide is a general
stimulant for mosquitoes, but it is only part of the story).  Lactic acid
and octanol are attractive for some species.

There are thousands of described species of mosquitoes and probably several
times more undescribed species.  Some bite people, most don't.  In a typical
area there are likely to be several important pest species.  There is no
particular reason to suspect that these different species are attracted to
the same compounds.

Measurements of the attractiveness of different people to mosquitoes show
that there is a *lot* of difference between their attractiveness for a 
given species.  This could be diet, or genetics, or ???.

There is anecdotal testimony for the effectiveness of taking large doses
of vitamins B+C.  As far as I know, this has not been confirmed in a
controlled study, but some people swear by it.

DEET is the most effective/least toxic repellent.  It stinks and feels 
yucky, but it does repell all mosquitoes and most other blood sucking
arthropods.

Andrew Cockburn
USDA



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