Scientists Have Discovered Why Some of Us Are More Prone to Mosquito Bites

If you think you're a mosquito magnet, you're probably not imagining it.

Have you ever wondered why some people are more likely to get bitten by mosquitoes than others? If you're one of those people, then perhaps you've had a relative tell you that it's because your blood is "sweet," or perhaps you have much more normal relatives than I do. If the former is true, then it may come as a surprise to you that mosquitoes don't seek out their victims based on the content of their character, they're actually much more concerned with your natural scent.

Scientists at the Rockefeller University have been hard at work trying to nail down the details of this phenomenon, and they’re getting close to coming up with a much more detailed answer, the university announced this week.

Without getting too deep into the chemistry of it all, mosquitoes are most drawn to people with skin that produces high levels of carboxylic acids, according to preliminary findings published this week in the academic journal Cell. These acids are common organic compounds that can be found in the thin oily layer that coats our skin. They’re responsible for keeping us moisturized and glowing.

Researchers found that those with high levels of carboxylic acids in their skin remain consistently appetizing to mosquitoes over time, regardless of changes in diet or grooming habits. What they haven't figured out yet, however, is which unique scents mosquitoes prefer.

Even though the research work is still in its early stages, future discoveries could potentially help scientists develop more effective mosquito repellents.

Until then, arm yourself with as many citronella candles as you can before heading out on that camping trip. And at least now you’re armed with the correct scientific information to shut down those eccentric relatives. But hey, you can also just smile and take the compliment, why be so bitter when you can be sweet?

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Jeremy Porr is a News Writer at Thrillist. Follow Jeremy on Instagram.