Scientists in the Netherlands have discovered that mosquitoes are particularly attracted to smelly feet. They are isolating the most “attractive” odours and producing a chemical product to entice and then kill mosquitoes.
Used regularly, this product will reduce the number of mosquitoes, as they are unable to re-produce as quickly as this product removes them.
Mosquitoes seem to have an insatiable desire for our blood. But what actually draws them to us was a mystery – until scientists discovered that mosquitoes love our smell.
To prove this, Niels Verhulst, a scientist in the Netherlands, has been testing many different smells to see how attractive they are to mosquitoes. Niels released some mosquitoes into a chamber and observes them. This is how he discovered that there is nothing a mosquito likes more than a sweaty sock. But why?
The problem is that, on the feet alone, there are hundreds of different smells. And they didn’t know which was the one that attracted the mosquitoes. So they needed to isolate them.
To determine how attractive the different odours are to the mosquitoes, they devised an intricate experiment.
When the mosquitoes find a smell attractive, it becomes excited, and emits a pulse of electricity through its antennae. When the most attractive odours are isolated, different blends can now be tested, using the enclosed chamber.
The plan is to put the blend of chemicals inside mosquito traps. Hung outside homes, mosquitoes will be lured into them and killed.
Professor Takken and his team believe this could have a big impact.