An Easy Way For Mosquitoes to Be Afraid of You? This Bites

Winter is still obviously present in the northern hemisphere; but the weather will eventually get warmer…

…and along with that welcome revelation comes increased humidity — as well as the inevitable scourge of those literal bloodsuckers ubiquitously known as mosquitoes.

Meanwhile, the southern hemisphere is currently in the middle of summer, if you want to travel to get away from the cold — and people are most certainly being pestered by these voraciously hungry flying insects, which transmit such diseases as encephalitis, malaria and yellow fever, of which a shortage of vaccinations is currently in effect in the United States.

An Easy Way For Mosquitoes to Be Afraid of You? This Bites

One report claims that a simple action could result in the pesky pests thinking twice about attacking you — and you do not need to spend one penny employing it.

“When encountering a defensive host, mosquitoes are exposed to mechanical perturbations (e.g., swatting, shivering) that can be perceived as negative reinforcement by the insect when paired with other host-related cues such as host odors”, according to this article — which was authored by nine different contributors for Current Biology — as a result of research in attempting to ascertain how and why mosquitos select which person to bite. “Learning the association between host odor and mechanical perturbation would allow mosquitoes to use information gathered during previous host encounters.”

In other words, after taking action against a hungry mosquito which is ready to pounce upon your skin for nourishment, it will supposedly associate your unique scent with the threat of being swatted and be more likely to avoid you because they quickly learn that pursuing you is dangerous — and they will apparently remember their encounters with you for days until they forget your scent.

A chemical compound which is present in our bodies as a neurotransmitter may be a significantly important aspect of how hosts are chosen by mosquitos: “We further show through combined electrophysiological and behavioral recordings from tethered flying mosquitoes that these odors evoke changes in both behavior and antennal lobe (AL) neuronal responses and that dopamine strongly modulates odor-evoked responses in AL neurons. Not only do these results provide direct experimental evidence that olfactory learning in mosquitoes can play an epidemiological role, but collectively, they also provide neuroanatomical and functional demonstration of the role of dopamine in mediating this learning-induced plasticity, for the first time in a disease vector insect.”

Summary

My years of personal experience questions the veracity of the findings of the research highlighted in the aforementioned article. You see, I am a delectable gourmet dish sought after by these airborne annoyances; and they will do anything within their powers to ensure that their bodies are full of my delicious blood — even after I consume copious quantities of garlic to the point that it oozes out of every pore of my body like I did at the Gilroy Garlic Festival some years ago.

Please do not misunderstand me — I hope that the research in question leads to more effective tools for controlling mosquitoes as a result of a better understanding of their behaviors…

…but no matter how many times I swat, they seem to come back for more. Perhaps that is my fault, as I eschew the application of chemicals on my body unless deemed absolutely necessary.

I can assure you that there is little that is more annoying than a stupid goat needlessly bleating endlessly before 6:00 in the morning just outside my open “window” — which was nothing more than a opening in the wall of a dried mud hut with a thatched roof — even after sleeping on a burlap sack using mosquito coils to unsuccessfully ward off those intrepid dive-bombers with the whining buzz while I was a guest in a hut which the homeowner gave up for me for the night. I may impart my tales and experiences in Côte d’Ivoire at another time — perhaps complete with audio, as I recorded audio portions of my trip along with plenty of photographs.

By the way: that familiar whiny pitch of a mosquito that you hear near your ear is caused by the flapping of its wings — and only the female mosquito bites.

I have no apologies for animal lovers when I say that a good mosquito is a dead one — and even then, they seem to resurrect themselves from the dead to continue their assault on me.

Speaking of assault, I have a question which is completely off topic for this article: why is attacking someone with pepper spray considered a salt; and is it merely a seasonal reference?

Source: Current Biology.

One thought on “An Easy Way For Mosquitoes to Be Afraid of You? This Bites”

  1. Pam says:

    Try lavender spray, they hate the smell & at least it’s not chemical!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *