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Study: Mosquitoes Find Human Breath, Odor

RIVERSIDE, Calif., Sept. 30 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve studied the flight paths of disease-carrying mosquitoes to find out how they locate and zero in on human target hosts.

University of California, Riverside, entomologists say the carbon dioxide we exhale and the odors of our skin serve as crucial cues to female mosquitoes on the hunt for human hosts to bite.

Female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can spread diseases such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever. Exhaled carbon dioxide is the first signal a mosquito detects, researchers said, and then it proceeds to follow a broad skin odor plume to its target, a university release said Friday.

The researchers released female yellow fever mosquitoes into a wind tunnel and filmed their flight paths while introducing carbon dioxide and skin odors.

“Carbon dioxide induces a faster and more direct upwind orientation than skin odor,” entomologist Ring Carde said. “Our experiments show that the response of yellow fever mosquitoes to skin odor requires an exposure longer than that of carbon dioxide to induce upwind flight.

“The mosquitoes’ carbon dioxide receptors allow the insects to respond almost instantly to even the slightest amount of the gas,” Carde said. “Skin odors, however, become important when the mosquito is near the host, selecting biting sites.”

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