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I’m a hard-bitten columnist.

However, I’m not a hard-bitten journalist like the late tough guy Mike Royko, or the late cigar-chomping Jimmy Breslin, or the late hard-drinking Pete Hamill.

No, no, I’m not like that tough-guy trio at all. I’m more the soft, cuddly marshmallow type of columnist like my hero Dave Barry.

Nor do I want to be Royko/Breslin/Hamill. You notice all those names have a “late” in front of them? That “late” doesn’t mean they showed up to work after 12-noon, Gentle Reader.

“The late Hank Nuwer” has a nice ring, I suppose, but no thank you! I wanna be gumming baby food and keeping pads in business when I ride off into the sunset at age 109.

No, the reason I’m a hard-bitten journalist is because mosquitoes love biting me. I don’t mean they like me, favor me, or vote for me. I mean they downright feast and chomp on me. They are like the guys carrying six plates at the Pump House’s Thanksgiving buffet table, and I’m the buffet.

Yep, mosquitoes don’t just snack on me. They see me as an appetizer, main course, succulent dessert and midnight snack.

You know the old Alaskan joke about the guy who likes walking into bear country with his paunchy, slow-footed friend because he doesn’t have to run faster than the bear to get away?

Well, my wife Gosia likes taking hikes with me because mosquitoes descend on me in a black funnel cloud while ignoring her completely.

On one such visit to the boreal forest near Creamer’s Field, I got swooped upon by what felt like a million buzzing Boeing 747s. She, however, had not a single one on her white hiking duds.

“I never saw you run so fast,” she said with an evil chuckle when she finally caught up to me huddled in our car in the parking lot swatting a couple dozen nasties that followed me inside before I could slam the door.

Now, a new study by Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Conor McMeniman and his team has come out explaining why some of us have more mosquito fans than Taylor Swift has Swifties.

It’s because we stink like smelly cheese.

That’s right. Smelly cheese. And apparently it doesn’t matter if you take four showers a day, use Ben’s 100 percent for cologne, or pay 100 bucks for a bug-resistant shirt at Rays.

If you’re a skeeter magnet, you’re a skeeter magnet because female mosquitoes swollen with eggs need to guzzle more blood than Dracula and Himiko Toga all together for the protein.

In this study, the “Swat” team of researchers employed a giant flight cage the size of the Carlson Center’s hockey rink that compared up to six human scents at a time. If they need more study volunteers, let me nominate the guy sitting next to me in church Sunday who must have eaten three raw garlic cubes for breakfast.

The purpose of the study was no joke, however. It was intended to fight malaria and to build a better repellant. New studies hope to put a stop to the West Nile virus, Dengue fever and sleeping sickness.

So, what did the team learn? The test demonstrated that mosquitoes most loved airborne carboxylic acids like the compound butyric acid, which is found in stinky cheeses.

Warning taken! If I go walking in the woods with a ham sandwich instead of with my wife, I’ll top it off with Velveeta instead of Limburger.

Unfortunately, the research on mosquitoes is still many years away before a perfect repellant can be developed and sold commercially.

So, until then you’ll recognize me as the hard-bitten journalist walking in the woods with a post-hole shovel to fend off those blood-sucking Alaskan bugs.

Contact Managing Editor Hank Nuwer at or 907-459-7582. First published in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner