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Fruity whiff may inspire new mosquito repellents

Odors from ripening bananas can jam fruit flies’ and mosquitoes’ power to detect carbon dioxide

Fruit flies actually have a love-hate relationship with the smell of fruit. And a new insight into the chemistry of that attraction and repulsion could lead to novel repellents for other insects, researchers say.

Carbon dioxide is a known turn-off to fruit flies when it emanates from stressed peers. “Drosophila sniff CO2 and avoid it like crazy,” says neurobiologist Anand Ray of the University of California, Riverside. But ripe fruit puffs out the gas and still attracts plenty of flies. In this case, compounds released by the fruit block the flies’ CO2 receptors, Ray and Riverside colleague Stephanie Turner report online August 26 in Nature.

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