- People who swat at mosquitoes or perform other defensive behavior may be abandoned, no matter how sweet
- The team placed mosquitoes in an insect flight simulator and exposing the mosquitoes to various smells for the study
- The study was published in the journal Current Biology
Wonder why you receive more bug bites than others around you? It is because, mosquitoes can rapidly learn and remember the smells, researchers have found.
The study dopamine — a brain chemical involved in reward learning — is a key mediator of aversive learning in mosquitoes.
However, people who swat at mosquitoes or perform other defensive behavior may be abandoned, no matter how sweet.
Mosquitoes exhibit a trait known as aversive learning by training female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to associate odors (including human body odors) with unpleasant shocks and vibrations, said Clement Vinauger, Assistant Professor in Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University or Virginia Tech.
For the study, published in the journal Current Biology, the team placed mosquitoes in an insect flight simulator and exposing the mosquitoes to various smells, including human body odors, and observed how the insects, trained or not, reacted.
“Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing exactly what attracts a mosquito to a particular human — individuals are made up of unique molecular cocktails that include combinations of more than 400 chemicals,” said Chloe Lahondere, Assistant Professor at the varsity.
“However, we now know that mosquitoes are able to learn odors emitted by their host and avoid those that were more defensive,” Lahondere added.
“Understanding these mechanisms of mosquito learning and preferences may provide new tools for mosquito control,” Vinauger said.
“For example, we could target mosquitoes’ ability to learn and either impair it or exploit it to our advantage,” he noted. (IANS)