Researchers in the United States have developed chemicals that can interfere with a mosquito’s innate ability to sniff out human beings, and they’re hoping these chemicals could lead to the next, bigger and better generation of mosquito traps and repellents. An expert in the United Kingdom said that provided the chemicals were both cheap and safe to use, this development would be a major step forward.
A female mosquito is able to detect a human by tracking the changes in carbon dioxide in the air that occur when a person exhales. Because of this, carbon dioxide is already used in different types of traps, but they require gas cylinders or dry ice, which means that they’re hard to come across in developing nations.
Three groups of chemicals that disrupt the carbon dioxide receptors of mosquitoes were identified by the scientists. One mimicked carbon dioxide and could work in a trap, one prevented the mosquito’s detection of the carbon dioxide, and the third one tricked the mosquitoes into thinking they were completely surrounded by the gas so they could not decide which way to go.
“The identification of such odor molecules, which can work even at low concentrations, anda re therefore economical, could be enormously effective… helping control the spread of mosquito-borne diseases”, said Anandasankar Ray of the University of California.
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