Human Attractiveness

What makes one person more attractive to a mosquito than another person? Have any conclusions been reached regarding why some people are more attractive than others? I have tried gorging on garlic prior to going fishing, but that doesn't seem to help. I am going on a trip to Africa and am concerned about the diseases that the mosquito carry. I do not like using chemical repellents but have to find the best way to deal with this potential problem.

There are researchers working on isolating some of the components of human sweat and secretions to determine what is attractive to the female mosquito. The work that has been published to date shows that CO2 is the primary attractant; some mosquitoes are attracted to lactic acid, which we secrete when we sweat; and there are a few other compounds that we know SOME mosquito species are attracted to (octenol for example).

There is a publication that debunks the idea that consuming Vitamin B-12 will repel mosquitoes - and if you look at the Center for Disease Control website, it mentions the others that have not been scientifically proven to be repellent, although you hear people say it works all the time (eating bananas, eating garlic, etc.). While some people may feel like it works for them and that they are not being bitten as much, there is nothing in a lab setting that has shown that these products are truly repellent for mosquitoes. And certainly when you are in a mosquito-borne disease endemic area, it would be too risky to rely on something like that.

The only proven method of protecting yourself from a biting mosquito is through the use of a repellent. We have a fact sheet on mosquito repellents that provides information on some that we have tested in our lab. As an alternative, you might consider protective clothing.