When it comes to chiggers and no-see-ums, I am the chosen one. I am their Mecca. My flesh is an all-you-can-eat buffet on the Las Vegas Strip. I can be sitting on the deck beside Trish, and the no-see-ums ignore her and come to me. Why the injustice?
This is one of those mysteries that seems like it should have a simple answer. It doesn’t. As it turns out, research shows that 10% to 20% of people are more appealing to biting insects than the rest of the population, but the reasons are far from simple. Insects are drawn to people using a vast array of senses, and they are drawn to a vast array of chemicals. Insects sense almost 300 different chemicals released in human odors. Each of these chemicals has different significance to different species of insects, and these chemicals occur in different mixtures and proportions, which change the way insects respond. There are thousands of different species of biting insects. Are you starting to see the complexity here?
Research has shown that about 85% of insect attraction is based on genetic traits that result in certain combinations of odors being emitted. As proof, biting insects show absolutely no preference when confronted with identical twins, but they show a clear preference when it comes to fraternal twins.
Where does that leave me? Welted and scratching. I guess I simply need to accept the facts as they are and keep spraying myself with Repel. Perhaps one day I will get my revenge on the no-see-ums of the world.
Below is a no-see-um, also known as a biting midge.
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