Researchers learned the key ingredient in human body odor that may be particularly attractive to mosquitoes — and the answer can be found in cheeses.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, School of Medicine and Current Biology , teamed up with Macha Research Trust to determine what characteristics in human body odors make mosquitoes more attracted.
The research used a 20-meter by 20-meter screened cage that contained hundreds of African malaria mosquitoes, according to the study. CNN reported the first study .
Around this facility, there are eight tents for one person. These tents are connected to the cage in a way that the human body odor can be safely fed to the mosquitoes.
Researchers found that mosquitoes gravitated to human body odor with “increased relative abundances of the volatile carboxylic acids,” including butyric acid. Butyric acid is a fatty acid humans produce in their gut, but it’s also naturally occurring in butter, “hard cheeses” such as parmesan, milk, yogurts, and cream, according to a separate study published in the National Library of Medicine. The acid can also be found in some fermented foods such as sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers, according to the study.
The Johns Hopkins researchers and Mach found that mosquitoes are less drawn to body odors enriched with monoterpenoid, eucalyptol. Eucalyptol can be found in tea tree oil and cannabis sativa, according to the American Chemical Society.
According to PubChem, the compound is also commonly present in mouthwash and cough suppressants.
Conor J. McMeniman is a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Public School of Health professor and co-author of the study. He did not respond immediately to an email sent out of office hours asking for comments.
“This finding opens up approaches for developing lures or repellents that can be used in traps to disrupt the host-seeking behavior of mosquitoes, thereby controlling malaria vectors in regions where the disease is endemic,” Edgar Simulundu, one of the co-authors of the paper, told CNN.
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