Mosquitos have been plaguing citizens of the U.S. for years, but not many people understand how exactly they hunt down their human prey. While many people know that mosquitos are attracted to the carbon dioxide that humans exhale, but this is not the only clue they use to find a tasty snack. Mosquitos use a combination of visual, thermal, and olfactory senses to find their prey. Researchers performed tests to discover exactly how these senses work together to hone in on prey.
The researchers found that when they placed a dark object on the floor of a wind tunnel and released carbon dioxide the mosquitos immediately honed in on the dark, high contrast object. When there was no carbon dioxide the mosquitos showed no interest in the object. So, when mosquitos smell carbon dioxide they then immediately begin using visual clues to locate possible prey even if the actual object doesn’t smell of carbon dioxide. They also found that during a similar experiment the mosquitos were attracted to a warmer object with or without the presence of carbon dioxide.
With the information gathered from these tests scientists were able to hypothesize exactly how mosquitos find their prey. They believe that a mosquitos hunting instincts kick in when they smell carbon dioxide. Then when it gets closer to the smell it sees and uses visual clues to draw closer to their prey. Finally, they sense the person’s body heat at around one meter away, which ultimately leads them to their chosen victim.
Did you know how mosquitos located their prey? What do you think of this rather sophisticated combination of senses?