Am I Attractive?
3 Sep 2011
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Why are some people more attractive to mosquitoes than others? A collaborative project between designer Susana Soares and medical researcher Dr James Logan aims to find out.
AboutIt is estimated that over 1.2 million people die from malaria, which is carried by mosquitoes, each year.
Dr James Logan and his team are exploring new research methods to develop a more efficient, reliable repellent made of natural chemicals. They became interested in how body odours from certain people naturally repel midges and mosquitoes, which could explain why some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others. People who are unattractive to biting insects mask the attractive odour's chemicals within their body odour.
The object of Am I Attractive? is to help people find out, in a playful way, if their odour is attractive or unattractive to mosquitoes. Two people place their hands in opposite sides of the object and in an average of 90 seconds the insects will invariably fly towards the most attractive scent.
Why are some people more attractive than others? One theory is that it is a signal for the insect. Unattractive chemicals may be a sign that the person they are about to feed on is unsuitable due to stress caused by illness or disease.
The aim of this project was to create a tool to raise awareness for this particular research, and ultimately gather volunteers to find which specific chemicals the mosquitoes are attracted to.