DEC 15, 2015 10:04 AM PST

Researchers Demonstrate How Mosquitoes Rely on Warmth for Food

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Have you ever noticed how mosquitoes are always around to eat at you in warmer and humid environments? There’s a reason for this, as researchers from Rockefeller University have demonstrated in a recent study.
 

Mosquitoes are attracted to heat, where food sources are most likely.


Mosquitoes are actually ‘tuned’ in a way to seek out warmer temperatures where warm-blooded animals are most likely to be living. With an internal thermometer that is baked right into their genetics, mosquitoes are able to avoid colder areas where their prey are less likely to exist and stick to the warmer areas where warm-blooded animals try to stay to keep warm.
 
In the demonstration, the researchers put mosquitoes in a large enclosed box that contained heatable metal plates. The researchers then applied heat to the plates and watched via a camera as the mosquitoes were attracted to the heated plates as they became warmer.
 
It was noted in the experiment that the warmer the plates became, the more mosquitoes were attracted to them, but after a certain point, the plates would become so hot, about 104º Fahrenheit, that mosquitoes would actually avoid them, so there definitely appears to be a maximum temperature that mosquitoes are actually comfortable to be around.
 
Another major detail that the researchers discovered during the experiment is that mosquitoes’ internal thermometers must be very accurate because simple temperature changes as slight as just 2.5º made all the difference in how many mosquitoes were actually willing to go near the heated metal plates.
 
The discovery of this genetic mechanism is big for companies that want to make better mosquito repellants and/or traps, as the new data now suggests a better way to make conditions less preferable for the pesky flying devils or to better lure them into a trap so they’ll spend less time biting you and your family on the next camping trip.

Source: Rockefeller University via Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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