Driven mad by midges? Smelly sock it to ’ em!

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - News - Pro­fes­sor Lo­gan. By Janet Boyle jboyle@sun­day­post.com

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.

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