Get your jokes about already sharing a bed with a cock out of the way, because a serious bit of research from academics at Addis Ababa University has found that chickens have the power to protect you from mosquitoes.
A study in Ethiopia has shown that the irritating little buggers keep well away from chickens, with four compounds present in chicken feathers -- isobutyl butyrate, naphthalene, hexadecane and trans-limonene -- believed to have a repellant effect. According to the experts, the birds sometimes eat mosquitoes too.
“We were surprised to find that malaria mosquitoes are repelled by the odours emitted by chickens,” said Professor Rickard Ignell of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, who was involved in the research. “This study shows for the first time that malaria mosquitoes actively avoid feeding on certain animal species, and that this behaviour is regulated through odour cues.”
As well as being decent pub chat material, the discovery could have major implications in the fight against malaria. Mosquitoes are largely responsible for spreading the disease, which leads to thousands of deaths per year, and this study could help us find effective defenses.
For now, it's worth keeping a bag of chicken feathers and a bit of glue handy in your suitcase at all times. [Independent]