Health Care

Swatting at mosquitoes won't be pointless in any case

Swatting at mosquitoes won't be pointless in any case

A recent study published by a team from the University of Washington suggests that mosquitoes have the ability to associate scents with mechanical shocks, and are thus capable of learning what types of odors to avoid. Later, mosquitoes flew upwind and had to choose between the smell of a tasty human - which they previously preferred - and a control odor. This preference, however, may shift if the smell of this individual is associated with an unpleasant sensation.

"Once mosquitoes learned odors in an aversive manner, those odors caused aversive responses on the same order as responses to DEET, which is one of the most effective mosquito repellents", senior author Jeff Riffell, a UW biology professor, said in a news release.

The researchers found that the mosquitoes quickly learned the connection between the host odour and the mechanical shock, and used that information to decide the direction they need to fly. They repeated this test with mechanical vibrations thrown into the mix, and the effect on the mosquitoes was dramatic.

A chemical message in mosquitoes' brains meant the insects were warned when they thought they might be about to be squashed.

They can actually learn to associate movements like swatting or shivering with human odors, according to a.

Researchers determined this by exposing mosquitoes to a choice between a sleeve that either had a human odor or did not.

Mosquitoes can distinguish the scent of hosts that exhibit defensive behaviors such as swatting. The critters that didn't have dopamine receptors by genetic modification couldn't learn to avoid smells associated with swatting.

Turkey disputes White House readout of Erdogan-Trump phone call
He stressed that the United States now only partners with the YPG to combat Daesh on "the eastern flank of the Euphrates". On Tuesday, a high-level U.S. delegation visited Ankara to discuss the details of Turkey's operation in Afrin.


Mosquitoes already have their preferences in whom they bite - you may know people who can barely sit outside on a summer night without getting devoured, while others seem to be able to sit within clouds of mosquitoes without a single bite.

A tethered, flying Aedes aegypti mosquito.

For example, they targeted specific parts of the brain involved in olfactory integration by fitting mosquitoes with helmets that allowed for brain activity recordings and observations.

With this new understanding of how mosquitoes learn to avoid certain hosts, the researchers say they are now exploring mosquitoes' ability to learn and remember favored hosts.

Riffell and his colleagues wanted to find out more about how learning might influence mosquitoes' biting preferences. Without dopamine, the experiments showed, those neurons were less likely to fire. Additional experiments by Riffell and his team showed that dopamine is also essential in mosquito learning.

The study, published January 25 in the journal Current Biology, shows that mosquitoes can rapidly learn and remember the smells of hosts and that dopamine is a key mediator of this process. "With these learning paradigms, we can explore in the future how positive and negative memories are formed in the mosquito brain, and how that influences their biting behaviors", he added. In addition to Vinauger, Lahondere and Riffel, the authors include Gabriella Wolff, Lauren Locke, Jessica Liaw and Jay Parrish from UW, plus UC-Riverside's Omar Akbari and Caltech's Michael Dickinson.


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