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Research Points to Making Humans “Invisible” to Mosquitoes

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Mosquito

Credit: Alvesgaspar
CC BY-SA 3.0

by Joseph Bennington-Castro, io9.com

It’s a breakthrough in the fight against disease-carrying mosquitoes. Researchers have found a chemical that disables the part of the insect’s brain that smells humans. Future bug repellents based on the compounds could give people an invisibility cloak against the winged pests. We talked to a scientist who worked on the discovery to find out more.

There are three main ways that mosquitoes zero in on their targets. The strongest mosquito attractant is carbon dioxide (CO2), which the insects can detect from a distance of up to 20 to 30 meters. “The reason mosquitoes and other blood-feeding insects have evolved to detect CO2 is because every living vertebrate is going to produce a lot of CO2 as turbulent plumes,” said Anandasankar Ray, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside.

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© 2013 io9.com

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