The first signs of summer are evident. The heat has already arrived, and the first signs are the mass arrival of mosquitoes. Bites, itches and itchiness are on the rise, but – writes the Guardian – “there are signs that a solution for the 20 percent of the population receiving higher than average numbers of bites may soon be on the way.” How? In early May, researchers at the University of Jerusalem (Huji) developed a new repellent that can reduce the number of mosquitoes that feed on our blood by 80 percent.
A study published in the journal Pnas Nexus reveals that the application of a thin layer based on naturally occurring cellulose nanocrystals (Cnc), a renewable raw material found in cotton and wood, an organic compound with an unpleasant odor, smeared on the skin produced a “chemical camouflage.” And this camouflage confused the mosquitoes and diverted them elsewhere, to other targets.
“The Cnc-repellent combination will have a longer efficacy and range than other products currently available on the market,” says Jonathan Bohbot, senior lecturer at Huji and one of the paper’s co-authors, adding that they now expect “high levels of product adoption” if and when it hits the shelves.
According to some estimates, then, genes account for “85 percent of a person’s propensity to be stung,” while the company performing the DNA testing, 23andMe, says it has “identified as many as 285 inherited genetic markers” that account for the frequency with which mosquitoes strike their victims. It is also because mosquitoes are attracted to humans through volatile substances (organic compounds) that we ourselves emit with our breath.