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Some human scents increase attacks from mosquitos

A wet start to spring followed by hot, dry temperatures means it has been the perfect storm for mosquitos to make a rapid return to our region.

Everyone has had a welt or two thanks to a mosquito, but some people seem to be a direct target for the insect.

A recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University indicates that some people may attract the itchy pest more than others.

According to researchers, some human scents increase attacks from the pesky bug, leading them to hunt the same person over and over.

"So it’s believed that people who are more attractive to mosquitos are releasing more of these particularly attractive chemicals, either through our sweat or in our exhaled breath," researcher Stephanie Rankin-Turner, of Johns Hopkins University, said.

Late April rains and increasing temperatures overnight combined with hot, sunny days this week throughout northeastern Ontario have meant a population boom for mosquitos.

"Well, now they’ve all emerged at the same time and that’s why we feel as if we’re a bit overwhelmed. Frankly, what has happened this season is a bit later, and now they’ve all kind of emerged at the same time," Science North staff scientist Bruce Doran said.

A common misconception is that the female insects are biting you to drink your blood.

"Mosquitos are not feeding on us as such. They actually feed on nectar from plants and things like that, so the females only take blood from us in order to reproduce, in order to make babies," Doran said.

Becoming itchy is not the only reason to avoid being bitten by mosquitos, they can also carry diseases.

"We get some dengue cases, West Nile virus and in terms in what people need to be aware of, of course, if you get a mosquito bite, you don’t know if that mosquito’s infected or not. Fortunately, mosquito-born disease isn’t too big of a problem in the US and Canada," said Rankin-Turner.

Although you can spray around your house, you run the risk of killing other insects that are natural predators of the mosquito.

Doran said there are things you can do to protect yourself from being bitten.

"Long-sleeve clothing, you can wear a whole bug suit, not to be out at night because that’s when the mosquitos tend to be more active, and then the best protection is actually using some of those sprays," he said.

In addition to repellent and light-coloured clothing, the most effective way to keep mosquito populations down around your home is to remove still water. So if you have a birdbath or outdoor dog bowl, make sure you are changing the water. Top Stories

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