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Why mosquitoes bite some people and not others

Thursday - 7/3/2014, 6:11am  ET

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In this undated file photo provided by the USDA, an aedes aegypti mosquito is shown on human skin. Guyana is reporting at least 12 more cases of the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya that causes severe joint pain and fever for many of its victims. Health Minister Bheri Ramsarran said late Wednesday, June 4, 2014 that the infections occurred near the border with Suriname and about 20 miles from where the first two cases were documented last week. According to the Centers for Disease Control the chikungunya virus is most often spread to people by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that transmit dengue virus. (AP Photo/USDA, File)

Jasmine Song, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- Mosquitoes always seem to be more attracted to some people than others, and now we know why.

According to Salon, each of the nearly 150 species of mosquitoes in the United States differ in biting persistence, habits, ability to transmit disease, flying ability -- and host preference.

Salon reports the most significant chemicals mosquitoes use to locate potential hosts include l-lactic acid, ammonia, carboxylic acids and octenol, in combination with one another.

A 1999 study also reports that malarial mosquitoes are attracted to human foot odor. Sweat, once metabolized by bacteria, is a key factor in attracting these pesky bloodsuckers.

While carcinogenic insecticides such as DEET are possible mosquito repellents, some plants can easily do the trick.

A 2014 study found that a mixture of 32 percent lemon eucalyptus oil provided more than 95 percent protection from mosquitoes for three hours, compared to a 40 percent DEET repellent that gave test subjects 100 percent protection for seven hours.

Similarly, a 2013 Dr. Mercola's Bug Spray combines citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, and vanillin -- a primary component of vanilla.

Plant-based products have a tendency to evaporate quickly, though, so they must be re-applied to ensure protection.

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