Swatting away a mosquito prevents bites - even if you miss

A tethered flying Aedes aegypti mosquito

Later, mosquitoes flew upwind and had to choose between the smell of a tasty human - which they previously preferred - and a control odor.

However, the study also proved that even if an individual is deemed delicious-smelling, a mosquito's preference can shift if that person's smell 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", said study researcher Jeff Riffell, from UW.

The researchers fitted the mosquitoes with a helmet so they can observe the reactions of the insects when exposed to various smells, including human body odors. For the mechanical shock, they used a vortex mixer to simulate the vibrations and accelerations a mosquito might experience when a person tried to swat them. What they saw is that the neural activity in the brain region where olfactory information is processed was modulated by dopamine in such a way that odors were easier to discriminate, and potentially learn, by the mosquitoes.

Researchers introduced mosquitoes to the odor of a human, rat or chicken and then gave them a mechanical shock.

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

The University of Washington team is continuing its research into mosquito behavior and is now focusing on how mosquitoes learn and how they are drawn to and remember "favored hosts". The critters that didn't have dopamine receptors by genetic modification couldn't learn to avoid smells associated with swatting.

How mosquitoes determine which individuals to bite has important epidemiological consequences. Apparently, they even have seasonal feeding habits: birds are their main prey in summer while mammals and birds are harangued more during other parts of the year.

The visual “arena” in which researchers tested the responses of mosquitoes to different odors
The visual “arena” in which researchers tested the responses of mosquitoes to different odors

Riffell and his colleagues wanted to find out more about how learning might influence mosquitoes' biting preferences.

The mosquitoes were again tested 24 hours later in a custom 3D-printed holder, allowing them to still fly in place while the researchers were recording the activity of neurons in the olfactory centre of their brain. Without dopamine, the experiments showed, those neurons were less likely to fire.

It also could help prevent the transmission of certain infectious diseases, Lahondere said to USA Today.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Current Biology.

"By understanding how mosquitoes are making decisions on whom to bite, and how learning influences those behaviours, we can better understand the genes and neuronal bases of the behaviours", Riffell said. The researchers say that suggests that dopamine is a critical component for the bugs' ability to learn scents and associate them with hosts that make better (or worse) targets.

Dopamine staining in the brain of an Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Authors of the paper include Clément Vinauger, Chloé Lahondère, Gabriella H. Wolff, Lauren T. Locke, Jessica E. Liaw, Jay Z. Parrish, Omar S. Akbari, Michael H. Dickinson, and Jeffrey A. Riffell.




Related news:

Hot News

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top NTSB: Amtrak engineer missed pace restrict indicators
Jan 28, 2018 - 02:00
The NTSB in a preliminary report released earlier this month said that PTC would have slowed down the train. He felt rested at the start of the trip, he told investigators.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Tokyo-based Cryptocurrency exchange hacked
Jan 28, 2018 - 01:55
ET was up 0.35% against the U.S. dollar at $11,193 a coin, according to Markets Insider data. At a Friday night news conference, Coincheck President Koichiro Wada bowed and apologized .

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Trade commission rules against Boeing in case against Bombardier
Jan 27, 2018 - 16:50
Over almost a year, the dispute intensified, adding to tensions between the USA and Canada over cross-border trade. After the ITC's decision May said: "I welcome this decision, which is good news for British industry".

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Karnataka bandh: Schools, colleges and workplaces remain shut
Jan 27, 2018 - 16:49
Deve Gowda has termed the Congress chief-minister Siddaramaiah's Govt.in the State as the "worst" he has ever seen in his life. But the BJP and the Prime Minister are committed to passing this bill to do justice to Muslim sisters and mothers, he said.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top USA economy picked up in 2017, but growth slowed at year's end
Jan 27, 2018 - 16:48
Few economists believe the economy can maintain such a pace these days, given an aging population and meager productivity gains. The expansion is now in its ninth year and is poised to become the country's second-longest on record later in 2018.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Elizabeth Flores, Louise Turpin's Sister
Jan 27, 2018 - 16:44
The abuse began in in Fort Worth, Texas , where they lived for 17 years before moving to California , and intensified over time. Police found that some of the children had been shackled to their beds and were being held in "a foul-smelling room".

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Dog nearly dies of allergic reaction after owners dye her fur purple
Jan 27, 2018 - 16:43
She was immediately given fluids, pain medication and bandages, but those at the shelter didn't think she'd survive. Pinellas County Animal Services posted the story of Violet , a white Maltese mix, earlier this week.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Super Blue Blood Lunar Eclipse Moon, coming early Wednesday!
Jan 27, 2018 - 16:41
It's not so much of a mind-blowing event as the blood moon, but it's a little more visually significant than the blue moon. And fear not luna-tic's, Virtual Telescope will be streaming the event live for those of you unable to view it up close.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Casey Affleck withdraws from presenting best actress at Oscars
Jan 26, 2018 - 01:43
However, Affleck's publicist announced Thursday that the Manchester By the Sea star isn't even planning on attending the awards. If Affleck were to participate in this year's ceremony, his presence could be problematic.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Museum Offers Trump Toilet Instead of Van Gogh
Jan 26, 2018 - 01:41
Still, the Guggenheim's chief curator demurred, offering a perhaps even more appropriate work of art for their household. Instead, it offered Maurizio Cattelan's "America" : a functioning toilet cast in 18-karat gold.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Larry Nassar sentenced to 175 years for sexual abuse
Jan 26, 2018 - 01:36
Another of Nassar's victims, Kaylee Lorincz , told the court: "We were ultimately strong enough to take you down". Even though she had never met most of these women, Raisman said she felt an "instant connection" with them.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Trump to present immigration plan
Jan 26, 2018 - 01:35
He said, however, that if a deal is not struck by then, the issue would be taken up in debate on the Senate floor. She also said Trump has consistently called for these principles in immigration reform.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Trump faces another diplomatic rebuke from Turkey
Jan 26, 2018 - 01:30
Turkey sees both groups as linked to Kurdish separatists who have fought a decade-long insurgency against the Turkish government. The U.S. has around 2,000 troops in Syria, officially as part of an global , U.S. -led coalition against Islamic State.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top GRAMMYs 2018: Looking Back at Some of the Show's Most Memorable Moments
Jan 26, 2018 - 01:26
Leading the femme brigade, R&B singer SZA follows close with five nominations and is 2018's most Grammy-nominated woman. The competition is stiff, but " Flower Boy " may be special enough to upset in the Rap Album of the Year category.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Samsung, LG Criticize Trump's Decision On Washer Safeguard
Jan 26, 2018 - 01:25
South Korean officials said this week they would seek to overturn the decision by appealing to the World Trade Organization . An LG spokesman said nothing had been decided about the timing or amount of its washer price increase.