Further, the research has shown that in group settings, mosquitoes are likely to target certain people, leaving the rest relatively unscathed.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Cell on Tuesday, 18 October.
The study employed chemical analysis to find that people highly attractive to mosquitoes produce significantly more carboxylic acids in their skin emanations.
These acids are part of the skin’s natural moisturizing layer, and people produce them in different amounts.
Mutant mosquitoes lacking some chemosensory co-receptors also retained the ability to differentiate highly and weakly attractive people.
Mosquito preferences matter more in group settings. The “mosquito magnet” in the group may receive the most bites, leaving the less attractive humans largely untouched.
These differences were stable over several years.
The researchers designed an experiment where 64 volunteers were asked 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, following which dozens of mosquitos were released into the set up.
It was observed that the mosquitoes swarmed towards the stockings of the most attractive subjects.
These differences remain stable over a long time, the study found by testing the same people over multiple years.
The experiment used the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads diseases like yellow fever, Zika, and dengue. Study author Leslie Vosshall, a neurobiologist at Rockefeller University in New York, told news agency AP that similar results from other kinds can be expected, but more research was needed for confirmation.