Good luck outsmarting a mosquito | Science News

Support Science Journalism

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


News

Good luck outsmarting a mosquito

The blood-sucking insects use their senses in sequence in a relentless search to find you

By
2:01pm, July 16, 2015
mosquito

GOTCHA  A mosquito’s quest for a blood meal is so much more intricate than just flying toward an exhalation of carbon dioxide.

Holding your breath all summer, even if possible, wouldn’t keep mosquitoes from finding you. Nor would breath-holding plus invisibility. Studies of how mosquitoes find people to bite reveal tastes and tricks that are “annoyingly robust.”

So says, literally, a report to be published in the Aug. 17 Current Biology on mosquitoes’ search strategies. The carbon dioxide exhaled by animals, the look of high-contrast objects and the warmth of bitable bodies all attract mosquitoes, but in interacting ways that make the system hard to beat. “The independent and iterative nature of the sensory-motor reflexes renders mosquitoes’ host seeking strategy annoyingly robust,” the study concludes.

Biologists have known that mosquitoes follow plumes of carbon dioxide wafting away from a breathing target. It doesn’t take much. In other research

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content