From: Curtis Johnson
To: Dave Hamilton
Date: Aug 22 1998 8:37:09 am
Subject: Salt
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DH>> For some unknown reason fleas just don't bite me. They do bite
DH>> everyone else in the house, but they will jump on my bare feet
DH>> and just jump back off. Maybe I need to shower more.

CJ>  They love me.
CJ>  Perhaps it could be diet-related (do you eat a lot of
CJ>  onions or other spices, just as a guess?).

DH> No, my diet is pretty bland, but it is identical to that of
DH> the other members of my family.

Metabolic quirk?  Odd strain of skin bacteria?  <Shrug.>

CJ> I think fleas, like
CJ>  ticks, are attracted to butyric acid--a byproduct of bacterial
CJ>  breakdown of sweat.

DH> I think their attraction is simply to motion. When we had them
DH> in the carpet I could waive a cardboard box near the floor and
DH> they would board it. Apparently their next step was to determine
DH> if they could eat and decided they could not, so they would just
DH> stay still or jump off. I was told that they survive without
DH> a host on house dust, which is largely dead skin and mites. I
DH> don't know if the eat mites or not.

The only time I've seen fleas jump on me is when I'm
sitting still.
I'd known that house dust was mostly those two ingredients,
but hadn't heard that about fleas surviving on it.  I would have
thought their mouth parts were too specialized.
Have you ever seen the William Blake painting, "Ghost of a
Flea?"

DH> Any idea what mosquitos eat when there are no humans? There don't
DH> seem to be that many warm-blooded animals in the forest, and those
DH> that are here have fur.

IIRC, mosquitoes generally fly only a few hundred yards
from their breeding grounds.  If they hang about streams and
pools, the animals will come to them.  As for forest mammals,
it's true that the highest concentration is in "broken forest"--
forest interrupted by glades.  Don't forget mice.
Fur doesn't necessarily stop mosquitoes.  One reason to
roam the woods with a dog is that mosquitoes will tend to go
after the dog before you.  Humans are apparently low in their
preferred diet, but they definitely will take what they can get.

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