“Female mosquites love the delicious odors given off by humans”

Back in the days of my high school science project, my most memorable one was on mosquitoes. Culex pipien pipiens was the species. My mission was to find out whether they laid more viable (more to hatch) eggs with or without a human blood meal. As I reported the findings in front of an auditorium full of people in Champagne Urbana, Illinois, an unusual reaction spread through my audience. One row at a time each person began scratching as I described how I feed the mosquitoes a human blood meal-my arm stuck in their cage. At the height of the mosquito population, it numbered about 300 hungry females. Research has advanced significantly since my days with the mosquito abatement service. The Culex p.p. did lay more viable eggs on human blood if you are interested.

Why  did all these mosquitoes prefer a human blood meal to the gerbil or guinea pig meal?

Well it seems researchers now understands why humans are such a delicacy. It seems we give off more carbon dioxide and nonanal odors than these other animals. This combination is irresistible to female mosquitoes.
How do they detect these odors?
We give them off through  our skin. Nonanal molecules are an end product of fat digestion and when we breathe our skin exudes the combination of these odors. When it is hot, we sweat and give off heat, CO2 and nonanal odors. These odors are sensed by the receptor sense cells on the antennae of the head of the mosquito and it can hone in on that essence from many feet away. They will land and where ever the concentration of the odors is the strongest they will drill through clothes including jeans to suck the blood that carries the desired chemicals to the surface of the skin.
The UC Davis research on the nonanal odor was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health; a cooperative research agreement with Bedoukian Research, a supplier of specialty aroma and flavor ingredients headquartered in Connecticut; and the National Science Foundation.

Excerpts courtesy of   http://news.yahoo.com/livescience/whyhumanblooddrivesmosquitoeswild
Excerpts courtesy of   http://www.news.ucdavis.edu

Excerpts courtesy of  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_receptor

Excerpts courtesy of   http://www.springerlink.com

Image mosquito mouth parts  courtesy of  http://www.vanderbilt.edu/maxpalp.jpg
Image mosquitobloodmeal  courtesy of   http://www.biolib.cz.jpg


1 Comment

  1. January 26, 2010 at 12:32 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RJS, andreabakes. andreabakes said: “Female mosquites love the delicious odors given off by humans” « Nature's Crusaders http://bit.ly/8pgzOS (via @therightblue)/Mmmm Lyme~yum! […]

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