In a new study, boffins have discovered key differences in the body odours produced by people who are more prone to insect bites compared to those who seem resistant. And the crucial difference is - such individuals have lower levels of fruity smelling compounds in their sweat.
According to researchers, these compounds, known as ketones, repel mosquitoes. People who produce high levels are less likely to be bitten, reports The Telegraph.
Therefore, following the discovery, the researchers are developing a new kind of insect repellent to help those whose bodies do not smell so fruity.
Tests in Kenya and Brazil, where mosquitoes can transmit malaria and yellow fever, have proved "very effective".
Dr James Logan, a researcher at Rothamsted Research, a government-funded research institute, said: "Mosquitoes can detect a wide range of different chemicals and signals to help them identify something as a human being.
"The higher concentrations of these ketones seems to trick the mosquitoes into thinking what they are smelling is not a human. It could be that these chemicals carry a message about the people who produce them that makes them unattractive to mosquitoes.
"We have been testing these chemicals on the skin to see how effective they are as repellents and have shown they are effective against three different species of mosquito."
To reach the conclusion, Logan, working with colleagues at Aberdeen University, analysed the body odours produced by a panel of volunteers found to be resistant to mosquitoes and compared them with the body odours of those who attracted the insects.
Logan is presenting his work at Pestival, an insect art and science event on insects.