Nothing is more annoying than the sound of a mosquito buzzing around our heads on a summer night while we desperately try to sleep despite the heat and the insomnia. However we try to fight them they always come back to bite us and feed on our blood. According to a new study, mosquitoes are very-well equipped to track us down and suck our blood. The researchers found that the tiny insects can sense the heat of our body and the CO2 in our breath from meters away.
Scientists have been trying for a long time to find out how mosquitoes choose their victims and what attracts them to us in the first place. The new study reveals that mosquitoes have a very sensitive sense of smell.
The researchers studied a batch of mosquitoes to see how they react in different circumstances. The buzzing insects were enclosed inside a tunnel where the scientists were able to control them. Twenty mosquitoes were released into the special room that had a single black dot on one of its walls. The experts wanted to determine how developed the insects’ senses of smell and sight were.
According to the study, the mosquitoes did not seem to notice the black spot until the scientists released some CO2 inside the room. By releasing the carbon dioxide, the researchers wanted to mimic the human or animal breath. After the CO2 was released, the mosquitoes started to buzz their way to the single black spot and sat on top of it. Suddenly, the black spot was of interest to the little blood suckers, the researchers observed.
Jeff Riffell, biologist at the University of Washington, and one of the researchers who conducted the study, explained that the tunnel could control the wind conditions and the mosquitoes that lived inside it. This way the scientists were able to find out more about their blood-sucking behavior. Riffell wrote in his paper that animals that have warm blood, humans included, release carbon dioxide while exhaling and the mosquitoes can sense that even if they are standing 30 ft from the victim.
Riffell explained that mosquitoes appeared to be using their sense of sight and smell before deciding who they will be biting next, a deer, a dog or a human. Flores van Breugel, another scientist who contributed to the study, said that previous experiments involving fruit flies showed that they were more attracted to pleasant odors, which made the insects more alert.
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