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叮咬醉酒者 蚊子也会醉吗?

更新时间:2019/4/5 9:39:10 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Do mosquitoes feel the effects of alcohol?
叮咬醉酒者 蚊子也会醉吗?

A few years ago, I took part in a vintage car rally in Denmark as a photographer. The rally was less about being the fastest, and more about the effort you put into your fancy dress. It ended in a camping site on the island of Mon, with dinner, dancing and more than a few drinks. Some hours – and drinks – later, I decided it was a good idea to sleep in a deckchair under the balmy Danish stars.

几年前,我作为摄影师受邀参加在丹麦举办的一场老爷车拉力赛。这场拉力赛并不是一场速度的比赛,而更像是一场着装打扮的较量。比赛最终在默恩岛(Møn)的一处露营地以晚宴、舞蹈、畅饮结束。而狂欢几个钟头,喝够瘾了的我选择在丹麦星空下的一把躺椅上进入了梦乡。

This was about the time I made three important discoveries: a) summertime Denmark has a ferocious population of mosquitoes; b) said mosquitoes are perfectly capable of biting through deckchair material and your shirt and c) drinking alcohol is the mosquito equivalent of someone ringing a dinner bell. My back ended up looking like bubble wrap. It’s not the souvenir I intended to take home with me.

正是这次经历让我得到3个重要发现:1) 夏季的丹麦有大量凶猛的蚊子;2) 这些蚊子完全能够透过躺椅的布料和你穿的衬衫叮咬你;3) 喝酒在蚊子界看来就相当于有人敲响了晚餐铃。我的后背看起来像包了一层泡沫。我从没想过会带着一背的蚊子包回家当纪念品。

As the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association found in 2002, the likelihood of being bitten by a mosquito appears to be dramatically increased if you drink alcohol. The study – a small one, involving only 13 subjects – showed those who had drunk a bottle of beer were more likely to have mosquitoes land on them to feed.

正如《美国蚊虫控制协会杂志》(Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association)2002年发现的那样,饮酒会大大增加你被蚊子叮咬的可能性。这项小型研究调查了13名受试者,发现喝过一瓶啤酒的人更有可能吸引蚊子叮咬他们。

Exactly why mosquitoes appear to be more attracted to drinkers, no-one is quite sure. We do know mosquitoes home onto humans thanks to two chemicals we exhale when we breathe: carbon dioxide and octanol. (Octanol, a secondary alcohol created from the breakdown of linoleic acid, is also commonly known as “mushroom alcohol” because it’s the compound that helps give mushrooms their taste.)

没有人能断定究竟为什么饮酒的人更容易吸引蚊子。我们已经知道蚊子会找到人体吸血,是因为我们人类呼气时会呼出二氧化碳和辛醇两种化学物质。辛醇,一种由亚油酸分解产生的二级醇,通常也被称为“蘑菇酒精”,因为辛醇正是赋予蘑菇美味的一种化合物。

But this leads to another question: do mosquitoes that feed on inebriated humans get drunk themselves? It is, despite the sheer number of mosquitoes who have fed on drunk humans over millennia, the subject of relatively little research.

但这就引出了另一个问题:以醉酒的人血为食的蚊子自己也会“喝醉”吗?尽管数千年来以醉酒的人为食的蚊子多不胜数,但与此相关的研究相对来说是微乎其微。

Entomologist Tanya Dapkey, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, tells BBC Future: “I suspect the answer is no, because the blood alcohol level is going to be so low.” But look for rigorous scientific study of the link between mosquitoes and alcohol, and there’s only so much you can find.

费城宾夕法尼亚大学的昆虫学家达奇(Tanya Dapkey)告诉BBC未来专栏:“我猜测答案是否定的,蚊子不会醉,因为血液中的酒精含量会很低。”但你也找不到多少严格的关于蚊子和酒精之间联系的科学研究。

Patsy Stone, the often-refreshed character played by Joanna Lumley in the comedy series Absolutely Fabulous, once famously remarked: “The last mosquito that bit me had to check in to the Betty Ford Clinic.” But in reality, insects can be remarkably resilient to the effects of alcohol.

乔安娜·拉姆利(Joanna Lumley)在喜剧系列片《荒唐阿姨》(Absolutely Fabulous)中扮演的帕特·斯通(Patsy Stone)经常酒杯在手,她在剧里曾说过一句名言:“最后一只咬了我的蚊子恐怕要去贝蒂福特诊所做检查了。”但实际上,蚊子对酒精有非同寻常的适应能力。

In a recent article on Popular Science, entomologist Coby Schal, from North Carolina State University, pointed out that a human who had knocked back 10 drinks might have a blood alcohol level of 0.2%. But if the mosquito drank that person’s blood, the effects would be negligible – the mosquito is drinking such minute amounts that it’s the equivalent of diluting those drinks to 1/25th of their strength.

北卡罗来纳州立大学的昆虫学家沙尔(Coby Schal)最近在《科技新时代》(Popular Science)的一篇文章中指出,喝掉10杯酒的人血液中的酒精浓度可能达到0.2%。然而,如果蚊子喝了这个人的血液,效果却可以忽略不计,因为蚊子喝的量太少了,相当于这10杯酒的酒精强度被稀释到只有1/25的效果。

Evolution might have given the mosquito some extra help, too. Any liquid other than blood is diverted first to a separate digestive pouch where enzymes break it down. So it is likely the alcohol is neutralised before it hits the insect’s nervous system.

蚊子的演化可能也是一个原因。非血液的任何液体会先被蚊子转移到单独的消化袋中被酶分解。因此,酒精很可能在刺激蚊子的神经系统之前就被中和了。

“A lot of the adult insects have a crop which stores all of these juices they take inside and then gradually releases them,” says Erica McAlister, a senior curator of insects at London’s Natural History Museum. “Enzymes break everything harmful – like alcohol and bacteria – down.”

伦敦自然历史博物馆的高级昆虫部的負責人麦卡里斯特(Erica McAlister)说:“很多成年昆虫都有一个嗉囊可以暂时储存所有吸入的液体,然后逐渐输送到消化道。酶会消除一切有害的东西,比如酒精和细菌。”

McAlister, who wrote the book The Secret Life of Flies, has some previous experience of the effects of alcohol on fruit flies, including the common fruit fly or, as it’s sometime called the “vinegar fly”. These tiny insects have a powerful taste for alcohol-laden rotting fruit.

麦卡里斯特是《蝇类的秘密生活》(The Secret Life of Flies)一书的作者,他曾经研究過酒精对果蝇的一些影响,包括常见的果蝇,有时也被称为“醋蝇”。这些迷你昆虫对有酒精味的腐烂水果有强大的愛好。

“I don’t know if mosquitoes get drunk, but we see it with fruit flies,” says McAlister. “They do get drunk but they do have very high tolerance. In smaller doses they get very hyperactive – and flirty. And they get less choosy about their partners as well.

麦卡里斯特说:“我不确定蚊子是否会喝醉,但我们看到果蝇真的會喝醉。雖然會喝醉,但果蝇酒精耐受力很高。剂量不大,喝了酒的果蝇会变得非常活跃和风骚,而且选择伙伴的时候也不那么挑剔了。”

“Give them a larger dose and they just pass out.”

“如果加大剂量,它们就会昏倒。”

Mosquitoes are also partial to rotting fruit, which creates alcohol as the sugars it contains ferment. Only the females feed on blood in order to get the protein needed to create eggs. Males and females also feed on nectar produced by flowers – mosquitoes are key pollinators – and use the sugar it contains to give them energy to survive. This nectar can also sometimes ferment into small amounts of alcohol.

蚊子也喜欢腐烂的水果,因为腐烂的水果糖分中含有的酵素会产生酒精。只有母蚊子以血液为食才能获得产卵所需的蛋白质。公蚊子和母蚊子也以花蜜为食(蚊子是主要的传粉者),并利用花蜜中的糖分来汲取生存所需的能量。这种花蜜有时也会发酵成少量的酒精。

Dapkey says the fact “alcohol makes us more attractive to them is an interesting question to me”.

达奇说:“酒精会增加人类对蚊子的吸引力,这对我来说是一个有趣的问题。”

Some people have a genetic make-up that makes them more attractive to mosquitoes. It’s thought that up to 20% of the population may carry traits that make them more susceptible to bites. One of those is blood type; in one study, those with Type O blood were twice as likely to be bitten as those with Type A blood. Other risk factors appear to be those with a high body temperature, pregnant women (possibly related to body temperature), those who exhale heavily (putting out more carbon dioxide), and larger people.

有的人因为基因构成天生就对蚊子更具吸引力。据说高达20%的人口可能具有让他们更容易被蚊子叮咬的特征。其一是血型。一项研究发现,O型血的人被咬的可能性是A型血的两倍。其他高风险因素包括体温高、孕妇(可能与体温有关)、气息重(呼出更多二氧化碳)和体形高大。

Mosquitoes are also choosy about where they bite you, depending on the species attacking.  Some prefer your legs and feet, while others are more likely to gravitate to your neck and face, possibly because they’re homing in on carbon dioxide emissions from your mouth and nose.

蚊子会选择人体不同的部位叮咬,这取决于蚊子的种类。有些蚊子喜欢咬腿和脚,而有些更喜欢咬脖子和脸,可能因为他们是朝着你的嘴和鼻子呼出的二氧化碳而来。

“I went to Costa Rica and I got mosquito bites on the bottom of my feet,” recalls Dapkey indignantly. “How does that happen?”

达奇愤愤地回忆道:“我去了趟哥斯达黎加,脚底被蚊子咬了。这是为什么?”

But the ethanol that we give off in our sweat when we have been drinking may be the chemical signal behind the findings of the 2002 study. A similar project, this time with 18 subjects in Burkina Faso in 2010, also found mosquitoes were attracted to those who had been drinking. The ethanol in the alcohol you’re drinking – and that you are excreting in minute quantities through your sweat – may be signal to the biting insects that there’s a meal nearby.

但是,我们喝酒时汗水散发的乙醇可能是2002年那项研究发现背后的化学信号。2010年,在布基纳法索做的类似研究找了18名受试者,也发现蚊子被饮酒的人所吸引。你所喝的酒中的乙醇以及你汗液中所含的微量乙醇,可能向蚊子们发出了信号:附近有一顿大餐了。

“The level of exhaled carbon dioxide and body temperature had no effect on human attractiveness to mosquitoes. Despite individual volunteer variation, beer consumption consistently increased attractiveness to mosquitoes,” the report’s findings noted.

该报告的研究结果指出:“人类对蚊子的吸引力与呼出的二氧化碳和体温水平无关。尽管个体志愿者存在一定差异,但啤酒喝得越多的人对蚊子就越有吸引力。”

“If you’re hungry and you’re walking around,” says Dapkey, “the thing that’s more likely to make you go in one direction is the smell of food: that strong smell of hotdog, for instance. Now, you might not eat the hotdog, but it shows you there’s food around there.”

达奇说:“如果你饿了正在找吃的,你更容易朝着食物味道飘来的方向走去,比如浓浓的热狗香味。你可能不会吃热狗,但热狗的香味告诉你周围有吃的。”

The alcohol may ring the dinner bell, but McAlister points out, the main factors attracting the mosquitoes towards you are probably entwined in your genetic make-up. Simply saying no to an ice-cold beer probably won’t save you from their attentions. And on the plus side, at least with a drink or two, you may not feel the itching quite so much. I know that last one for a fact.

酒精可能会给蚊子发出附近有晚餐的信号。但麦卡里斯特指出,你之所以吸引蚊子,主要因素可能与你的基因组成大有关系。仅仅不喝冰啤酒可能并不会躲避蚊子对你的注意力。好消息是,喝了一两杯再被蚊子叮咬之后,你可能就不会觉得那么痒了。这一点我能确定,因为我亲身经历过。

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