How Do Mosquitoes Find People?


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Have you ever wondered how a mosquito can find a person? Personally, I have always thought mosquitoes detected heat. However, I was recently reading the Farmers Almanac.pdfwhen I came accros an article explaining how mosquitoes find people. In the article I learned mosquitoes love bird blood, but if there are not enough birds they have to get blood from another source.

mosquito.jpg

Mosquitoes have a very good sense of smell; they use antennae that detect carbon dioxide, moisture and odors. The antennae tell the mosquitoes where a blood source is. Entomologists at the University of California, Davis found that the one common factor between birds and people is nonanal. Nonanal was found on many species of birds and on many multi-racial and multi-ethic people. To test this finding the researchers placed nonanal near the odor receptors of mosquitoes and they went wild.

To further test nonanal to see if it would work in nature; the researchers added nonanal to mosquito traps. the traps are usually baited with dry ice. Dry ice will emit carbon dioxide which is also known to attrack mosquitoes. By adding the nonanal to the traps, researchers caught 50%  more mosquitoes.

If the research was done very well, this is a huge finding and could have a huge impact on controlling mosquito spread diseases. If scientists can find a way to block or lower the amount of nonanal people emit, we could possibly never have to be bitten by a mosquito in the future. However, I do have to wonder, why do pregnant women get bit more often by mosquitoes? I was told it was because they have more blood in their body than non pregnant people. Now I am wondering if pregnant women are emmitting more nonanal than other non pregnent women. 

 

3 Comments

I was a little confused as to what nonanal actually was. In my brief research, the definition always includes as emitting a fruity or floral scent, which is likely why it appeals to the nasty bugs so much. I also found that it is more prevalent in some perfumes so that's something to watch out for. Now that scientists know why mosquitos are attracted to people, maybe they can make nonanal blocking insect repellant and deter the insects for good.

I absolutely detest these pests and I have always wondered why I am bit so often! Now I know to wear less floraly/fruity products when it is mosquito season. I have also wondered if mosquitoes have any importance whatsoever - it seems like all they do is spread disease and discomfort.

Since i was a kid, i've always been the victim of mosquito attacks. Fortunately i've never gotten sick or any diseases from them, but the itching certainly sucks, every summer i would have to wear jeans or i get bites all over my feet and legs, it is so annoying. I've also noticed that when I was smoking, the mosquitoes would stay away from me, so sometimes i would run the cigarette around my whole body so i'm covered in smoke, it works as a great repellent! This makes no sense cause mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide. So i looked it up online and found out that nicotine is actually known as a natural bug killer, so maybe that's why the mosquitoes don't bite me when i'm smoking

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