Driven mad by midges? Smelly sock it to ’ em!
A SCIENTIST is studying twins’ smelly socks – as part of the war against biting midges.
Professor James Logan hopes pongy footwear from identical and non- identical twins will reveal genetic clues as to why the flying insects prefer biting some people to others.
The Scots insect expert has chosen twins so that he can pinpoint people who naturally repel the pesky insects through their genes.
Most twins are brought up in the same families with the same homes, diets and lifestyles.
The big difference in nonidentical twins is they do not have the same genes.
So looking at the genes of those non- identical twins who repel midges is a very precise way of finding out what inherent traits they have to stave off midges.
The esteemed London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine don will place the socks in a wind tunnel and see which ones mosquitoes, the midge’s bigger cousin, descends on.
It is hoped his work could provide a new generation of products to help repel the insects, currently causing havoc across Scotland.
Scots- born Professor Logan, a midge magnet himself, said the study will also aid in the war against mosquitoes, one of the world’s biggest killers.
He said: “I spent three summers on the west coast of Scotland being targeted by midges while I studied them.
“My twin study will hopefully tease out what some people carry to repel them.
“The spin- off could also have huge advances for protecting people against mosquitos which carry malaria and Zika virus which kills and disables many people globally.
“Research already suggests up to 90% of people are bitten by the insects.”
Professor Logan, who grew up in North Berwick, East Lothian, said his war on the midge began when he was just seven and he had to run through a mist of them while on holiday in Arran.
“In the rush, I dropped my ice cream and had to watch from the car window as the midges descended on it,” he said.
He is now a world-leading entomologist fighting the war against malaria and Zika- causing mosquitos.
Fellow scientist, Dr Alison Blackwell, CEO of APS Biocontrol Ltd midge repellents, said: “Some people react really badly to midges and develop huge, swollen areas around the bite marks.
“Others barely know they have been bitten.
“If at all possible please do not scratch the bite as the reaction may well worsen.”
Scotland is in the grip of midge season, with areas on the west coast already flagged as highdensity areas.
In May it was revealed Scotland has an estimated midge population of 68 billion. Of this teeming mass, 21 billion are females that bite in search of a meal to help raise their young.