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Unsuccessfully Swatting Mosquitoes May Not Be A Waste Of Time And Energy After All

January 31st, 2018

Unsuccessfully Swatting Mosquitoes May Not Be A Waste Of Time And Energy After All

It is not uncommon for some people to sustain mosquito bites constantly while outdoors. Many of you know what it is like to constantly flail your arms in order to keep mosquitoes away while your friends remain unbothered. It should not be a surprise to learn that mosquitoes are attracted to particular types of blood. Some lucky individuals possess a type of blood that is not appetizing to mosquitoes, whereas many others do. However, those who possess blood that mosquitoes love to feed-on do not have to tolerate mosquito attacks forever. Although it can be annoying to swat and miss nearby mosquitoes, mosquitoes do not like being swatted at, even if a swat misses them. Recent research has suggested that mosquitoes will avoid people who repeatedly swat at them.

When you swat and miss a mosquito while it is hovering around you, the mosquito (or several mosquitoes) still feel the shock of the swat. After experiencing this shock, mosquitoes learn to avoid people who swat at them, as they do not want to experience a similar shock again. A group of researchers at the University of Washington have conducted several experiments that show how mosquitoes choose the people they bite.

One experiment involved mimicking the vibrations of a swat by using electric shocks. Each shock was accompanied by a particular bodily odor. Whenever time a person or animal takes a swipe at an annoying mosquito, the mosquito catches a whiff of body odor. One body odor used in the experiment came from a particular person, another was from a rat, and the last was from a chicken. After the researchers released mosquitoes they began to hover around particular odors, but when they received a shock they retreated. Eventually, the mosquitoes left all of the odors alone. This experiment indicates that swatting mosquitoes can still help to prevent them from biting. The mosquitoes in the experiment learned to avoid swatting no matter how attractive the mosquitoes found the body odor. So the next time you go out for a picnic, you can probably prevent mosquito bites by flailing your arms wildly for ten or so minutes.

Do you think that the electric shocks used in the experiment perfectly mimicked the sensation produced by swatting?

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