The fact that humans taste sweet to mosquitoes is what fuels the insects’ vampiric quest to suck our blood. Instead of zap all of the mosquitoes, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine think it’s a matter of taste.
According to the JHU Hub, a recently published paper in the journal Nature Communications shows that mosquito brains, as small as they are, have an area that produces taste. The mosquitoes are actually guided by their sense of smell, which is only helped by three pairs of noses. For the first time, the research shows that these organs are linked to the part of the brain associated with the mosquitoes’ sense of taste. So when they’re buzzing around your head, they’re just looking for the best place to eat, just like you.
“It’s likely that the odorants coming off our skin are picked up by the labella and influence the preferred taste of our skin, especially when the mosquito is looking for a place to bite,” said Christopher Potter, a neuroscience professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
The discovery could result in a new kind of bug spray that doesn’t stink. The idea is to make something that smells nice to us, but not to the mosquitoes.
More broadly, focusing on this area of study is thought to be key to making strides against malaria, which does not have a vaccine.
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