Sweaty skin: an invitation to bite?

Trends Parasitol. 2011 Apr;27(4):143-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pt.2010.12.009. Epub 2011 Jan 20.


Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto and Aedes aegypti have a preference for human blood, which determines their importance as vectors of pathogens responsible for human diseases. Volatile organic chemicals are the principal cues by which humans are being located. Human sweat contains components that are attractive to anthropophilic mosquito species, and variation in sweat composition causes differential attractiveness to mosquitoes within and between individuals and also between humans and other mammals. Characteristics of skin glands and skin microbiota define the odorous organic compounds emitted by sweat, thereby the degree of attractiveness of the host to mosquitoes. Carboxylic acids in particular appear to characterize humans. Thus sweat-associated human volatiles are probably the primary determinant factor in the host preference of anthropophilic mosquitoes.

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Anopheles / physiology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Odorants
  • Pheromones / physiology*
  • Skin / parasitology
  • Species Specificity
  • Sweat / chemistry*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / metabolism*


  • Pheromones
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • insect attractants