You Can Train Mosquitoes to Avoid You!

I’ve blogged about mosquitoes and the many diseases they can transmit to humans.  Vector-borne diseases include malaria (which causes more than 400,000 deaths a year) and the more recent Zika Virus.

Previous research has shown that mosquitoes prefer some targets over others.  For instance, they will feed on birds in the summer and mammals during other parts of the year. (University of Washington)  They also prefer some humans to others, based on factors such as your scent and the CO2 you exhale.

In the new study, U.S. researchers found that if you continue to swat at the mosquitoes bothering you, they will learn to associate your unique odor with the unpleasant experience.  This association develops even if you don’t successfully hit them.

“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,” says study author Jeff Riffell.  “Moreover, mosquitoes remember the trained odors for days.”

The researchers used Agilent ChemStation software in their work.

So the next time you get frustrated trying to keep those pesky mosquitoes away, just remember: They can be taught!

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