New research points to a new chemical that disables the part of the insect’s brain that is sensitive to human scent, making us invisible to these blood suckers. Of the three main ways that mosquitos sense their targets, scientists decided to focus on the strongest mosquito attractant, carbon dioxide.
A mosquito’s sensitivity to CO2 allows it to detect the person from a distance of up to 30 meters. The scientists at the University of California, Riverside located a class of olfactory sensory neurons called cpA and found that they could overstimulate the neurons to the point where mosquitos can’t detect any CO2.
To test their theory, the team collected a skin odor blend and introduced the sample to mosquitos. As predicted, the neurons fired up like crazy. With this piece of valuable information, the team then introduced a chemical called butyryl choloride to forcefully shut down the CO2-receptor neurons on the maxillary palps. After treatment, 85 percent of the sampled mosquitos could not locate the bodily scents of a host.
Anandasankar Ray, the head entomologist on the project shared:
Ultimately, we want to apply the full potential of modern neuroscience research and modern neuroscientific approaches to create the next generation of insect manipulators, and utilize that in tackling the spread of deadly diseases.
This discovery is a breakthrough for the future of bug repellants. It could also mean an end to the fight against disease-carrying mosquitos. You can read more about the research here.
Source, image: io9