Academic journal article Science and Children

How Mosquitoes Integrate Vision and Smell to Track Victims

Academic journal article Science and Children

How Mosquitoes Integrate Vision and Smell to Track Victims

Article excerpt

Mosquitoes are smarter than people think.

Scientists have found that mosquitoes are changing their hunting routines in response to host cues. For example, in Africa, mosquitoes now recognize when people emerge from bednets in the morning and have begun hunting more often during the day than at night.

Virginia Tech researcher Clement Vinauger has discovered new neurobiology associated with mosquito vision and sense of smell that explains how Aedes aegypti mosquitoes track their victims. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika fever, Mayaro, and yellow fever viruses.

"Mosquitoes are impacting millions of people every year. I've been working to understand how mosquitoes navigate space and time. Analyzing how mosquitoes process information is crucial to figuring out how to create better baits and traps for mosquito control," says Vinauger.

While scientists understand a lot about the mosquito's sense of smell and how it targets C[O.sub.2] exhalations to find their hosts, very little is known about how the mosquito uses vision.

Vinauger discovered that the interaction between the olfactory and visual processing centers of mosquitoes' brains is what helps these insects target their victims so accurately. …

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