Frontal close-up of an yellow-fever mosquito sucking blood, known vector of zika virus, chikungunya, yellow fever and dengue.

955632346

Frontal close-up of an yellow-fever mosquito sucking blood, known vector of zika virus, chikungunya, yellow fever and dengue.

Photo by: Joao Paulo Burini

Joao Paulo Burini

Why You Can’t Escape a Mosquito

By: Discovery

Hiding the scent of human blood from mosquitoes is harder than scientists originally thought.

September 08, 2022

Mosquitoes are responsible for more human deaths than any other creature. These bloodsuckers can transmit disease-causing viruses like Zika, dengue, and malaria.

In an effort to deter these pests, scientists have tried to block mosquitoes’ ability to smell. The idea was if you can block a mosquito from detecting the smell of human blood, they won’t be able to hunt us down. Unfortunately, all previous attempts have failed.

A new study shows this could be because mosquitoes have built-in workarounds to make sure they can always find their prey. Mosquitoes' nerve cells can detect more than one scent, so even if we masked one human order, they can pick up on other clues.

A woman applies mosquito spray to her hands during hiking.

1404334863

A woman applies mosquito spray to her hands during hiking.

Photo by: SimpleImages

SimpleImages

“Maybe instead of trying to mask them from finding us, it would be better to find odorants that mosquitoes don’t like to smell,” says neuroscientist Anandasankar Ray.

Mosquitos use human body odor, body temperature, and even carbon dioxide exhaled from a human’s breath. Scientists hope that by continuing to study mosquitoes they can develop effective repellants to limit the spread of disease.

Next Up

Insect Feed Can Transform the Farming Industry

Feeding insects to farm animals could be the environmental revolution that the livestock industry has been waiting for. Insects, a rich source of protein and part of the natural diet for pigs, poultry, and fish, use a fraction of the land and water needed to raise soybeans for feed and produce lower carbon emissions.

Blind Dogs Can Still Play Fetch. A Newfound Nose-to-Brain Connection Explains Why.

Why are dogs such great sniffers? A new canine connection shows powerful brain links between dogs’ sense of smell and sight.

Here's Why Smells Trigger Such Vivid Memories

Smells have a stronger link to memory and emotion than any of the other senses.

Why Aren't Fish Electrocuted During Lightning Storms?

The fish have no reason to fear bolts of lightning.

Why Do You Feel Butterflies in Your Stomach?

Turns out that nervous tickling sensation has a scientific explanation.

Here's Why Sound Carries Farther on Cold Days

It's not in your head—you hear better on cold days.

Why Bangladesh Has Six Seasons Instead Of Four

The seasons are determined by more than just the temps.

Here's Why You Unconsciously Copy Other People's Mannerisms

Get to know how the chameleon effect works with people.

Here's Why Static Shock Is Worse in Winter

The electric zap is caused by more than just dry air.

Why Doesn't a "Reverse Microwave" for Cooling Food Exist?

You may want to stick to the conventional methods of cooling food.