There’s a joke that alcohol is God’s gift to ugly people – even the ugliest of the ugly look amazing once you’ve had some (or a lot; depends on the initial levels of unattractiveness). It’s known colloquially as “beer goggles”, but did you know that drinking beer also makes you more attractive to mosquitos?
Recent research was conducted by French researchers, based in France and Burkina Faso, West Africa, examining the spread of Malaria in Burkina Faso, and how to control it. The results of the study, published in PLOS One, have found that alcohol consumption increases the likelihood of being bitten by mosquitos as a result of being “more attractive” targets.
In the study, 43 volunteers either drank beer or water before standing in a mosquito-proof tent. The researchers attached a pipe that drew air from the tent into a series of traps which the mosquitos would fly into. They then let out 2500 mosquitos (50 at a time) of the boxes and gave the mosquitos a choice: the fresh outdoor air of freedom, or the deliciously tasty human body odour. They would then fly into the traps where researchers would count how “attractive” each condition was.
The researchers found that while the mosquitos didn’t prefer human body odours over the outdoor air, the mosquitos were heavily attracted to the scent of the beer-drinking volunteers.
Mosquitos don’t exactly have the same “taste” in men/women as humans do – they prefer the smell. Alcohol consumption plays a large part in this because when humans drink alcohol, their body odour changes. “We postulate that the metabolism of alcohol following beer consumption induces changes in breath and odour markers that increases attractiveness to An. gambiae [the local mosquito population],” the researchers say in the study.
So if you’re the designated driver chilling at a mate’s place on the weekend and the mozzies come a-biting, just move near someone who’s been drinking alcohol – they’ll bite them and not you.