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Do mosquitos actually bite some people more than others? - Maria Elena De Obaldia


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TEDEd Animation

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Some swear they’re cursed to be hunted by mosquitos while their close-by companions are regularly left unscathed. Are mosquitos really attracted to some people more than others? And if so, is there anything we can do about it? Maria Elena De Obaldia digs into what factors make people tasty targets for these pesky insects.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Learn more about mosquito attraction to human skin odor with this paper, detailing a study examining the link between skin acids and attractiveness to mosquitos— and how this link could inform the development of more effective repellents.

Though mosquitoes are tiny creatures, they have had a huge impact on the course of human history. For example, malaria and yellow fever killed tens of thousands of laborers during the construction of the Panama Canal from 1904-1914. Did you know that, even today, mosquitoes cause more deaths per year than any other animal? In 2020, malaria was estimated to kill 625,000 people (mostly young children in Sub Saharan Africa). Read more about the world’s deadliest animal in this blog post from the Gates Foundation. 

In addition to the staggering death toll, malaria sickens nearly 300 million people per year, placing an enormous social and economic burden on the 86 malaria-affected countries, as discussed in this article from the the Centers for Disease Control. After 30 years of research, significant progress has been made towards developing effective malaria vaccines. To learn more, check out this interview with T.H. Chan from the Harvard School of Public Health. In addition to research on malaria vaccines and treatments, fundamental studies on how mosquitoes hunt for and bite humans, such as the Rockefeller University study explained here, will support the development of better, cheaper, and longer-lasting mosquito repellents.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Maria Elena De Obaldia
  • Director Anton Bogaty
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen
  • Music Salil Bhayani, cAMP Studio
  • Sound Designer Nirana Singh
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Sazia Afrin
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Cella Wright

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