Thursday, May 11, 2023
Web Desk

You may be attracting mosquitoes by using soap: study

When mosquitoes are not feeding on blood, they supplement their sugar intake with plant nectars, researchers say

Web Desk
A representational image showing a mosquito. — Unsplash/File
A representational image showing a mosquito. — Unsplash/File

A recent study suggested that fragrances of some soaps could attract mosquitoes more especially the three out of four brands on which the experts carried out their research.

According to the researchers: "Mosquitoes may be attracted to soap because, when they are not feeding on blood, they supplement their sugar intake with plant nectars."

Clément Vinauger, who led the work at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, said: "The fact we are taking those flowery, fruity smells and putting them on our bodies means that now the same object smells like a flower and a person at the same time."

“It would be like waking up and smelling something that was like both coffee and muffins. Very appealing,” the study lead said.

But, the study also underlined that soap affects differently people may be due to the mix of each person’s unique smell with the soap.

“It's remarkable that the same individual that is extremely attractive to mosquitoes when they are unwashed can be turned even more attractive to mosquitoes with one soap, and then become repellent or repulsive to mosquitoes with another soap," Vinauger added.

The experts concluded that soap choice could partially explain why some people are mosquito magnets while others get off bite-free.

The study that was published in the journal iScience, included four people who gave the fabric samples that they had worn as a sleeve while either unwashed or after washing with four different brands of soap — Dial, Dove, Native, and Simple Truth.

The study revealed that female mosquitoes — that only feed on blood — were found to be landing on the samples to give an insight into their preference.

Without exposing the participants the fabric was used to keep the effects of exhaled carbon dioxide aside, which is another important cue for mosquitoes.

When washed with Dove, Dial, and Simple Truth, it increased the attractiveness of some, but not all, volunteers, whereas Native soap repelled mosquitoes.

The researchers said: "The relatively repellent effect of Native could be linked to its coconut scent, as there is some evidence that coconut oils are a natural deterrent for mosquitoes."