In many parts of the world, drinking cold beer in the summer can be refreshing, but it also increases the risk of mosquito bites. So what is the effect of alcohol in human blood on mosquitoes? Does a mosquito get drunk if it sucks the blood of a drunkard?
As early as 2002, the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association found that people who drink alcohol seem to be significantly more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes. The small study, involving only 13 people, showed that those who drank a bottle of beer were more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes. The reason why mosquitoes are more attracted to people who drink alcohol is uncertain.
We do know that mosquitoes bite humans, thanks to two chemicals that we breathe out, carbon dioxide and octanol. Octanol is a secondary alcohol produced by the decomposition of linoleic acid, commonly known as mushroom alcohol, because it is a compound that helps give mushroom flavor.
But that raises another question: Will mosquitoes with the blood of drunkards get drunk? Although there have been a large number of mosquitoes living on the blood of intoxicated human beings over the past few thousand years, there are relatively few studies on this subject. Tanya Dapkey, an entomologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said: I doubt the answer is no, because alcohol in human blood is very low.
In fact, mosquitoes are highly resistant to the effects of alcohol. Coby Schal, an entomologist at North Carolina State University, recently pointed out that people who drink 10 glasses of wine may have only 0.2% alcohol in their blood. Even if the mosquito sucked the persons blood, the effect was negligible. Because mosquitoes absorb very little blood, which is equivalent to diluting the alcohol concentration to 1/25.
Evolution may also give mosquitoes a lot of extra help. Any liquid other than blood is first transferred to the mosquitos separate digestive sac, where enzymes break it down. So its likely that alcohol is neutralized before it enters the mosquitos nervous system.
Erica McAlister, an insect expert at the Natural History Museum in London, said: Many adult mosquitoes have systems for storing juice, which is released slowly afterwards. Enzymes break down all harmful substances, such as alcohol and bacteria.
McAllister has previously studied the effects of alcohol on fruit flies, which have a strong taste for alcoholic rotten fruits. I dont know if mosquitoes are drunk, but weve seen drunkenness in fruit flies, she said. They do get drunk, but they have a lot of patience. In small doses, they become very active and frivolous, such as being less critical of their partners. When the dosage is increased, they will get drunk.
Mosquitoes also prefer rotten fruit, which produces alcohol because it contains fermented sugar. Only female mosquitoes feed on blood to obtain the protein needed to produce eggs. Male and female mosquitoes also feed on nectar produced by flowers. Mosquitoes are key pollinators and use the sugar contained in nectar to provide energy for their survival. This nectar can sometimes be fermented into a small amount of alcohol.
Some peoples genetic makeup makes them more attractive to mosquitoes, and up to 20% of people may carry traits that make them more susceptible to bites. Including blood type: Type O blood is twice as likely to be bitten as type A blood. Other risk factors include high body temperature, pregnant women (which may be related to body temperature), high exhalation (which emits more carbon dioxide), and older people.
The alcohol you drink and the trace ethanol that is excreted through sweat may indicate to the mosquitoes that there is a good meal nearby. Mosquitoes also choose where they bite, depending on the type of attack they attack. Some mosquitoes prefer legs and feet, while others prefer to bite their necks and faces, probably because they are concerned about carbon dioxide emissions from your mouth and nose.
If youre hungry and you walk around, its more likely that youre going in a certain direction because of the taste of food, such as the strong smell of hot dogs, Dupky explained. Alcohol may be the bell for dinner, but McAllister points out that the main factor attracting mosquitoes closer to you may be related to your genetic makeup.
Source: Liable Editor of Netease Scientist: Qiao Junyi_NBJ11279