Photo: Germán Meyer (Flickr)
Did you know that some mosquitoes carry diseases like encephalitis, West Nile, dengue and yellow fevers, and malaria?
When you know you will be around mosquitoes you should think twice before wearing perfume. Why, you might ask?
Steer Clear Of Perfume Or Other Smells
Well, scientists have known for about a half century that most mosquito species are attracted to carbon dioxide, heat and moisture. Any warm blooded species produces those three things. Since that time researchers have been trying to figure out what specific odors in humans attract disease-carrying species.
Take West Nile virus for example. There have been over 29,000 cases and over 1,100 fatalities in the U.S. since 1999.
Scientists studying the mosquito carrier, Culex quinquefasciatus, are trying to figure out why it feeds on humans as well as other host species.
It’s All In The Smell
Mosquitoes smell with their antennas, and this Culex mosquito has a special sensitivity to a chemical called nonanal, produced by both birds and humans. When scientists baited mosquito traps with a combination of nonanal and carbon dioxide, they were capturing over 2,000 mosquitoes a night. That was fifty-percent more than with carbon dioxide alone.