We Are the Smelliest Species (to Mosquitos)

Hygiene is one of the most important aspects of social inclusion in modern day society. Physical cleanliness is essential to one’s overall image, and affects things such as building a successful career and creating/maintaining relationships. Companies producing shampoos, deodorants, soaps and body lotions are prospering in billion dollar empires that are barely affected by inflation. However, despite all of our efforts to smell good, mosquitoes still think that we are the smelliest “game in town.”

According to the recent editorial, published in the Trends in Parasitology, humans produce unique mixture of scent that cannot be observed anywhere else in the animal kingdom. Renate Smallegange, Niels Verhulst and Willem Takken, the researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, state the unique composition of human sweat as the main reason mosquitoes can detect humans from miles away.  Our scent is especially distinguishable and tantalizing to malaria and yellow-fever spreading mosquitoes.

There are three main glands in the human body responsible for our scent. Sebaceous glands are found primarily on our face and head that “…produce oils to protect the skin and hair.” Eccrine glands are located all over our bodies and are responsible for regulating temperature by excreting water and salts whenever necessary. Lastly, the smelliest glands are called apocrine and are located in the armpit and genital areas of our body. According to the Dutch researchers, “…eccrine glands are the most abundant sweat glands on the human body [sets us] apart from most other mammals.” In fact, the effect of eccrine glands on mosquitoes is comparable to “…being in the elevator with someone with too much perfume.”

Another researcher from Vanderbilt University, Laurence Zwiebel contends that the bacteria that break down sweat molecules on our skin are responsible for our unique scent. Therefore, understanding the mosquito attraction to certain microbes on our skin is essential in figuring out a solution to the mosquito problem. If this dilemma were to be solved, we could soon be able to figure out and eliminate the mosquito problem once and for all.

For the full article visit: http://www.livescience.com/12981-mosquito-humans-stinkiest-species.html



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