As a definite mosquito magnet myself, I eagerly clicked on Jonathan Day’s article explaining why some people seem to be ignored by the little bloodsuckers, while others wind up covered with itchy bites. This was one of the last articles Mary Magnuson edited for The Conversation this summer. Embedded in our newsroom as one of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s mass media fellows, Mary tracked down this medical entomologist at the University of Florida, commissioned him to write on this topic that our team was quite curious about and worked with him to make it an accessible and fun read. Currently the most popular article on our site, it breaks down the science of mosquito attraction.

Of course, various mosquito species can also transmit disease. I’m embarrassed to admit I had never heard of the second-most common mosquito-borne viral illness in the U.S. until I read University of Tennessee entomologist Rebecca Trout Fryxell’s article this past week. She describes the hard-to-diagnose symptoms of La Crosse disease and provides some tips on how to avoid the mosquitoes that carry the virus that causes it.

On a lighter note from the insect beat, have you ever wondered how ants defy gravity to walk up walls and even across ceilings? For our Curious Kids series, University of South Florida biologist Deby Cassill details ants’ “impressive toolbox of claws, spines, hairs and sticky pads on their feet that enable them to scale almost any surface.”

Also in this week’s science news:

If there’s a subject you’d like our team of science editors to investigate, please reply to this email.

Maggie Villiger

Senior Science + Technology Editor

Mosquitoes need to feed on blood in order to reproduce. But how do they choose whom to feed on? boonchai wedmakawand/Moment via GettyImages

Why are some people mosquito magnets and others unbothered? A medical entomologist points to metabolism, body odor and mindset

Jonathan Day, University of Florida

Mosquitoes can track down potential hosts using the CO2 released by humans’ metabolic processes, a medical entomologist explains.

People catch La Crosse disease primarily from the bite of the eastern tree-hole mosquito – although two other species may also carry the virus. Nipol Plobmuang/EyeEm via Getty Images

La Crosse virus is the second-most common virus in the US spread by mosquitoes – and can cause severe neurological damage in rare cases

Rebecca Trout Fryxell, University of Tennessee

Not all cases of La Crosse disease affect the neurological system, but those that do can be severe and sometimes fatal – especially in children.

Walking vertically – or even upside down – is a piece of cake for ants. pecchio/iStock via Getty Images Plus

How do ants crawl on walls? A biologist explains their sticky, spiky, gravity-defying grip

Deby Cassill, University of South Florida

Ant feet are equipped with an array of tools – from retractable sticky pads to claws to special spines and hairs – enabling them to defy gravity and grip virtually any surface.

Uncovering the genetic basis of mental illness requires data and tools that aren’t just based on white people – this international team is collecting DNA samples around the globe

Hailiang Huang, Harvard University

Existing genetic data and sequencing tools are overwhelmingly based on people of European ancestry, which excludes much of the rich genetic variation of the world.

Cold shutdown reduces risk of disaster at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – but combat around spent fuel still poses a threat

Najmedin Meshkati, University of Southern California

The power plant’s sixth reactor has been shut down, all but eliminating the risk of a nuclear meltdown. But fighting at the site could still release radioactive material.

Ghost islands of the Arctic: The world’s ‘northern-most island’ isn’t the first to be erased from the map

Kevin Hamilton, University of Hawaii

The new discovery echoes a mission in 1931, when a five-day zeppelin flight sent robots to the stratosphere and redrew the maps of the high Arctic.

How you can help protect sharks – and what doesn’t work

David Shiffman, Arizona State University

Sharks are much more severely threatened by humans than vice versa. A marine biologist explains how people can help protect sharks and why some strategies are more effective than others.