Scientists find a genetic clue to why mosquitoes prefer some people more than others.

Do mosquitoes prefer brunettes? Are they attracted to younger people with smelly feet, who wear perfume, or who eat stinky cheese?

Anyone truly susceptible to mosquitoes knows — these are urban myths.

Some of us get bit more. We just do.


Mosquitoes use their sense of smell to find and then choose among us. Our different body chemistries as well as how much CO2 we exude (aka, heavy breathing) play a role in mosquito preference.

But it turns out that you can inherit being a mosquito magnet. A study compared the bite-ability of different sets of twins — 18 identical and 19 nonidentical. (The identical twins share the same DNA because they formed from the same sperm and egg.) The researchers designed a Y-shaped cylinder that gave the mosquitoes a choice between a hand of each person in different sets of twins.

The researchers found that if one twin in an identical twin set was a skeeter magnet, it was far likelier that her twin would be too.

So there's a genetic basis to that deep attraction mosquitoes have for some people.

The lead author on the paper, Dr. James Logan from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said, "In the future we may even be able to take a pill which will enhance the production of natural repellents by the body." Because mosquitoes transmit diseases, like dengue fever, malaria, and West Nile virus, finding a way to protect our bodies from mosquito bites is more than a matter of convenience.

In the meantime, don't worry about stinky feet or stinky cheese. The reason why mosquitoes like you better may be something you were born with.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

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The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

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