Daily Dirt: Study proves Steve’s wife is a mosquito magnet, but not so much for Steve

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A new study finds some people really are “mosquito magnets,” and it probably has to do with the way they smell. | pexels.com

Daily Dirt for Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022

That doesn’t mean I have any love for those miserable bugs … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 432 of The Daily Dirt.

1. I knew it. I just knew it, and this Associated Press report backs me up.

My wife, Kathy, has always attracted mosquitoes — and mosquito bites — ever since I have known her. 

Me? Not so much. Maybe a bite or two the entire summer. Now I know why.

A new study finds some people really are “mosquito magnets,” and it probably has to do with the way they smell. The researchers found people most attractive to mosquitoes produce a lot of certain chemicals on their skin that are tied to smell. Bad news for mosquito magnets: The bloodsuckers stay loyal to their favorites over time, according to the information supplied by AP.

To put mosquito magnetism to the test, the researchers designed an experiment pitting people’s scents against each other, explained study author Maria Elena De Obaldia. Their findings were published earlier this week. They asked 64 volunteers to wear nylon stockings around their forearms to pick up their skin smells. The stockings were put in separate traps at the end of a long tube, then dozens of mosquitos were released.

“They would basically swarm to the most attractive subjects,” De Obaldia said. “It became very obvious right away.”

Scientists held a round-robin tournament and ended up with a striking gap: The biggest mosquito magnet was around 100 times more attractive to the mosquitoes than the last-place finisher. The experiment used the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads diseases like yellow fever, Zika and dengue. Vosshall said she’d expect similar results from other kinds but would need more research to confirm.

By testing the same people over multiple years, the study showed that these big differences stick around, said Matt DeGennaro, a neurogeneticist at Florida International University who was not involved with the research.

“Mosquito magnets seem to remain mosquito magnets,” DeGennaro said.

Out of the favorites, the researchers found a common factor: Mosquito magnets had high levels of certain acids on their skin. These “greasy molecules” are part of the skin’s natural moisturizing layer, and people produce them in different amounts, Vosshall said. The healthy bacteria that live on the skin eat up these acids and produce part of our skin’s odor profile, she said.

The study proved this point: Researchers also did the experiment with mosquitoes whose genes were edited to damage their sense of smell. The bugs still flocked to the same mosquito magnets.

“Mosquitoes are resilient,” Vosshall said. “They have many backup plans to be able to find us and bite us.”

Just ask my wife.

2. What’s worse than a rash of mosquito bites? How about our weekly tribute to crappy food items from somewhere around the world. Today we honor some of the grossest items eaten or drank on the old NBC “Fear Factor” shows:

  • Donkey fluids: Yes, contestants had to drink bodily fluids from a donkey, considered one of the most disgusting “Fear Factor” segments ever.
  • Horse rectum: Contestants were required to down 13 inches of that aforementioned part of a horse’s anatomy. 
  • Rodent smoothie: Just imagine, rats in a blender.

There’s more, of course, but I figured this would do for today.

3. That latest installment of weird names of towns prompted quite a few of you to offer more suggestions to our ever-expanding list. Here are some of the latest strange-but-true monikers of where people live:

  • Pee Pee, Ohio.
  • Hot Coffee, Mississippi.
  • Bald Head, Maine.
  • Unalaska, Alaska.
  • Good Grief, Idaho.
  • Dead Women Crossing, Oklahoma.
  • Bread Loaf, Vermont.
  • Beaverlick, Kentucky.
  • Chicken, Alaska.
  • Cut and Shoot, Texas.
  • Deadhorse, Alaska.
  • Double Trouble, New Jersey.

And from around the world:

  • Anus, France.
  • Arse, Indonesia.
  • Egg, Austria.
  • Gogogogo, Madagascar.
  • Horni Police, Czech Republic.
  • Howlong, New South Wales.

Steve Thought O’ The Day
I used to love “Fear Factor.” Remember who the host was? If you said Joe Rogan, you are correct. Rogan is now a big part of the UFC productions.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. We’ve always considered Steve more of a chick magnet than a mosquito magnet.

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