How Mosquitoes Are Drawn to Human Skin and Breath
Read the full article How Mosquitoes Are Drawn to Human Skin and Breath at NeuroscienceNews.com.
Female mosquitoes, which can transmit deadly diseases like malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus and filariasis, are attracted to us by smelling the carbon dioxide we exhale, being capable of tracking us down even from a distance. But once they get close to us, they often steer away toward exposed areas such as ankles and feet, being drawn there by skin odors.
Why does the mosquito change its track and fly towards skin? How does it detect our skin? What are the odors from skin that it detects? And can we block the mosquito skin odor sensors and reduce attractiveness?
Recent research done by scientists at the University of California, Riverside can now help address these questions.
The research is in Cell. (full access paywall)
Research: “Targeting a Dual Detector of Skin and CO2 to Modify Mosquito Host Seeking” by Sean Michael Boyle, Tom Guda, and Anandasankar Ray in Cell. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2013.11.013
Image: To test whether cpA activation by human odor is important for attraction, the researchers devised a novel chemical-based strategy to shut down the activity of cpA in Aedes aegypti, the dengue-spreading mosquito. They then tested the mosquito’s behavior on human foot odor – specifically, on a dish of foot odor-laden beads placed in an experimental wind tunnel – and found the mosquito’s attraction to the odor was greatly reduced. Credited to Genevieve M. Tauxe, Ray Lab/UCR.