The prolongation of mild and humid temperatures is optimal for those like me, who are mosquito magnets.

Some days ago it occurred to be overwhelmed by swarms of tiny insects flies. When it’s 28°C in the room where you stand, it is rather upsetting to choose between suffering a Saharian hot or ending up in the middle of whirlwind of insects. As soon as the invasion of insects has gone, here come back mosquitoes again, followed by hordes of bedbugs. The next question is: when will it be up to grasshoppers? I believe I am going to read the plagues of Egypt, and The Revelations, too, just in order to realize what to expect next.

Now let’s get back to our beloved mosquitoes. What use do they have for the ecosystem? Somebody tell me, because still I feel like something is escaping me. Probably the same usefulness as bedbugs, but they are not so annoying, even though they smell like rotten eggs, when mashed. Mosquitoes are a real pain in the ass for those who like me attract them like magnets.

Here comes the Summer, we can store our socks at last, and dress lighter clothes, we can our legs loose. No way! We cannot, indeed! Because it’s like to show a juicy steak to a hungry lion, where the steak is my own flesh and the lion is the tiger mosquito. We cannot, because at the fly-by of these hateful winged insects, my legs suddenly look like Pimpa’s fur: that’s a red dotted white fur. So here we magnets are, covering our legs, resorting to mosquito repellent, be it with natural ingredients or ammonia. In addition to the repellent a new mighty device has come from China: bend your ears! It’s a sort of pen that warms its tip, when activated. When used on the mosquito bite, it soothes the swelling and reduce the hitching.

It does work, if you survive the burn, but for sure it won’t remove the swelling and the reddening, which lie on your skin for days to come.

The Daily Mail issued a news some days ago, that identifies the smell of the skin as the cause of the attraction towards these insects. The newspaper article quoted a research of the Rockfeller University in New York, that supports that the so-called mosquito magnets produce certain epidermal acids, which act as tractor beams to those irritating star ships. Researchers themselves are currently busy with skin bacteria, in order to alter the emanated odours.

The study involved 64 volunteers, who had to wear nylon sleeves, in order to hold the smell of their own skin. Afterwards the sleeves were positioned in separate traps by the terminal side of long tubes, where mosquitoes were released. Maria Elena de Obaldia, head in charge of the study, immediately noticed how mosquitoes gathered around the most “interesting” sample for them. The winning sample was 100 times more interesting than the last ranked.

These results were confirmed also by a neuro-geneticist from Florida. Well, there’s not much to do: mosquito magnets are the same everywhere. And this is caused by greasy molecules which are part of the hydrating layer of the skin, and which are produced in different quantity by individuals. Epidermal bacteria flora feed itself with those acids, with the result to produce part of our odour.

Nevertheless, finding a definitive solution is not easy, as those little critters turned into real blood-sucking machines. In fact, scientists carried out an experiment also on mosquitoes, whose sense of smell was genetically modified. Well, those ones devoured the same magnets, as well. Mosquitoes are resilient, too.

Should we lay down our arms and get to learn from them, instead of persist to wipe them out?

By Cinzia Costi

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