Micro Wave: Why Mosquitoes Bite You More Than Your Friends

Short Wave


Okay Ramirez we are talking about why mosquitoes are attracted to some people more than others so To obviously I called up a fellow Floridian as you do when talking about Mosquitos though my name is Eva Buckner I am an assistant professor at the University of Florida's I this Florida medical and Tamala g laboratory. Yes. Medical technologist finally. So cool. Totally Medical entomologist or people who study insects in the context of medicine. The reason I study mosquitoes is because. Of, the way that they're able to affect public health So they are the the world's deadliest animal. Oh. Yeah. They kind of are and one thing to keep in mind for this episode is that there are many different types of mosquitoes that bite us but not a ton of conclusive research on different biting motivations gotta caveat noted and honestly appreciated you're welcome. So before we get into what little we know about why some species of mosquitoes bite people fun fact it turns out female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite you. And mostly they use the blood to make egg the males little. US. Hardcore. Just live off nectar and other sugar sources which. Technically, the females also do I didn't know that I knew about the female thing I didn't know about the nectar thing. Okay. Cool. CUCKOO call. But what did she say Rebecca about why they're attracted to some people more than others give emily what she wants. Well okay. One thing that makes a difference is the types of bacteria on your skin. If you have a very diverse amount of bacteria on your skin, it seems that they are going to be less attracted to that you know compared to people who have a less diverse population of bacteria on their skin and specifically Laura, Harrington another medical entomologist over at Cornell. told me that there. are around three hundred chemical compounds on the human skin, many of which could be attractive to Mosquitos, which is kind of a lot think but it's really about how they act in concert with one another that makes a person attractive or unattractive to mosquitoes. Got It. Okay. What about things that are easier to control I mean so weirdly the color of your clothing could make a difference. Yeah, and this has to do with how mosquitoes detect you. So either pointed out that their vision may not be as crisp as ours but they can certainly detect darker object better than they can detect a a lighter colored object which makes them more likely to land on you if you're wearing darker clothing. Got It. Got It. So you're better off wearing later colors because mosquitoes. are better at detecting darker objects exactly, and it's not just about what they can see either mosquitos can also sense heat and darker colors absorb more heat. So you know that could be a player too. So new more dark clothing totally out at least as a precaution Laura said more research is needed to know if that attraction to darker colors necessarily translates two more bites because again. I mean, you have to consider all the bacteria to Rebecca I literally always consider the battle all K-. Well, one thing that's for sure is that mosquitoes are really good at detecting carbon dioxide co two, which we're releasing all the time when we x Hale and there are few things that increase the amount of Co two you're putting out a big one is exercise. ooh, that makes. Sense. You're like huffing and puffing oxygen NCO to out metabolism. Here we go. Exactly exactly plus you're hot. You're sweating which mosquitoes are also very into by the way I'm in trouble elect the little chemicals in your little sweat like lactic acid which you always have, but it's especially prevalent when you're exercising. Okay. So all this being said can't our dear listener emily just like use bug spray. Yes. So even law both said, you can use defeat would you might be familiar with Berry and you can use this thing called oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or l. e., which I'd never heard of before what about Citronella? Ten thousand CITRONELLA candles burning in DC in the summer at all times. Are they do they actually do anything because I feel like they don't actually do anything? Yeah. This one was hard for me. Here's me asking either can you tell me one more thing as like being born and raised in Florida citronella candles are supposed to be like the thing. That's going GONNA be one of those who is Miss All right. All right a shadow your. Hopes and dreams. I mean she's not sorry all but. We she apologized I guess. Okay okay. So sicher Nulla. Candles don't do certainly less than yeah. My whole basically was a beautifully smelling lie. Okay. So in order to be less of a mosquito magnet in summary I'm wearing white all the time way past Labor Day I don't care dark colors out. So early and you're definitely not here exercising either. Number will be and Bod. Twenty Twenty And also I'm using or L. E. as a repellent right? Right. Just use one of those and make sure it's EPA registered insect repellent. Okay. Got It. What's next? We'll before we go you know in traditional microwave fashion right end on some listener mail. Okay. So today's listener mail comes from another Maddie who is hilarious the email starts off. My name is Mattie Humphries s me Mattie and I gotta say. It is definitely the coolest of the two of us for now. Okay. I'm a college sophomore and although my major is still undecided would like to let you know that I am determined to become the coolest Mattie, and I will stop at nothing. Well. I might stop each day to listen to shortwave while playing minecraft respect very respectable toner. In all seriousness, shortwave has gotten me through this pandemic so far, and I recommend it to basically everyone all the time. While we stand a Stan, we stand us Dan I. Hope the whole team is doing well, you've all been such an inspiration to me. Thank you and I appreciate you. Really. Nice right. But wait for it sign. mattie parentheses future coolest Mattie parentheses. This is a threat. I mean honestly Mattie Humphries just let us know when you're ready to take over. We are ready over here. Okay. All right that's it for today's microwave. Thank you emily from DC for inspiring US Anti Rebecca for teaching us all about these skaters. Got It. Today's episode was produced by the Queen of my producer heart for at Hanson fact checked by Matty's Phya soon to be overtaken I, see you Mattie Humphries and edited by via lay editor extraordinaire. Thanks for listening to shortwave from NPR.

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