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Mosquito refers to 2,700 different species of insects. The United States is home to 150 varieties of mosquitoes, most commonly Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito), Anopheles quadrimaculatus (a malarial mosquito found in North America), and Culex pipiens (the Northern House mosquito).[1] Mosquito-transmitted diseases include malaria, Yellow Fever, West Nile virus, and Dengue Fever.

Mosquitoes in the genera Aedes and Ochlerotatus are painful and persistent biters, feeding early in the morning, at dusk, and into the evening. Some also bite during the day, especially on cloudy days and in shaded areas. However, they typically do not enter dwellings. They prefer to bite mammals like humans, and they are strong flyers, flying up to many miles.[2] The genus Culex are also painful and persistent biters, and they prefer to attack at dusk and after dark. They frequently enter dwellings, but prefer biting birds over mammals. They are weak fliers.[2] Other genera are Cluiseta (moderately aggressive biters in the evening or in the shade during the day), Psorophora, Coquillettidia, Mansonia, and Anopheles. Anopheles mosquitoes are the only genus to transmit malaria to man.

How Mosquitoes Identify Hosts

"It is known that, besides L-lactic acid, there are many attractant compounds from skin emanation, for example, ammonia, 1-octen-3-ol, and some short-chain carboxylic acids. Ammonia, ranging from 17 lg/L to 17 mg/L, makes a significant contribution to the mosquito (Aedes aegypti) attraction behavior when placed together with lactic acid.[3] 1-octen-3-ol is believed to increase the attractiveness of L-lactic and CO2 in field studies.[4] Bosch et al. found that C1–C3 and C5–C8 carboxylic acids, over a wide range of concentration, could enhance the attractiveness of lactic acid.[5] Furthermore, Cork et al. also observed that formic acids elicit the largest amplitude EAG response in the electroantennography (EAG) assay on Anopheles gumbiae Giles.[6] It is obvious that ammonia, 1-octen-3-ol, some short-chain carboxylic acids, and etc make humans attractive to mosquitoes.[7]

Humans differ in their attractiveness to mosquitoes.[8][9][10][11] "Different levels of attraction can be determined by volatile olfactory cues from breath and skin with its associated microorganisms."[12] A 2008 study identified five chemicals found on human skin that make some individuals unattractive to mosquitoes: 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one, octanal, nonanal, decanal, and geranylacetone.[12]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. The Mosquito - Different Species, Accessed June 23, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Biology, Accessed June 23, 2014.
  3. Geier, M.; Bosch, O. J.; Boeckh, J, "Ammonia as an attractive component of host odour for the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti," Chem. Senses 1999, 24, 647.
  4. Takken, W.; Kline, D. L, "Carbon dioxide and 1-octen-3-ol as mosquito attractants," J. Am. Mosq. Control 1989, 5, 311.
  5. Bosch, O. J.; Geier, M.; Boeckh, J, "Contribution of fatty acids to olfactory host finding of female Aedes aegypti," Chem. Senses 2000, 25, 323.
  6. Cork, A.; Park, K. C, "Identification of electrophysiologically-active compounds for the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, in human sweat extracts," Med. Vet. Entomol. 1996, 10, 269.
  7. Liao S, Song J, Wang Z, Chen J, Fan G, Song Z, Shang S, Chen S, Wang P, "Molecular interactions between terpenoid mosquito repellents and human-secreted attractants," Bioorg Med Chem Lett, 24(3):773-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.12.102, February 1, 2014.
  8. U.R. Bernier, D.L. Kline, C.E. Schreck, R.A. Yost, D.R. Barnard, "Chemical analysis of human skin emanations: comparison of volatiles from humans that differ in attraction of Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae)," J. Am. Mosq. Control Assoc., 18 (2002), pp. 186–195.
  9. J. Brady, C. Costantini, N. Sagnon, Gibson, M. Coluzzi, "The role of body odours in the relative attractiveness of different men to malarial vectors in Burkina Faso," Ann. Trop. Med. Parasitol., 91 (1997), pp. S121–S122.
  10. R. Brouwer, "Variations in human body odour as a cause of individual differences of attraction for malaria mosquitoes," Trop. Geogr. Med., 12 (1960), pp. 186–192.
  11. B.G.J. Knols, R. De Jong, W. Takken, "Differential attractiveness of isolated humans to mosquitoes in Tanzania," Trans. R Soc. Trop. Med. Hyg., 89 (1995), pp. 604–606.
  12. 12.0 12.1 J.G. Logan, M.A. Birkett, S.J. Clark, S. Powers, N.J. Seal, L.J. Wadhams, A.J. Mordue, J.A. Pickett, "Identification of human-derived volatile chemicals that interfere with attraction of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes," J. Chem. Ecol., 34 (2008), pp. 308–322.

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