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March 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 44, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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No More Tropical Mosquito Bites

from the March, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

At last, there's a way to defeat those dreaded mosquitoes that haunt you during a dive trip.

Seems as if they can associate a particular odor with the vibrations and acceleration they might experience when a person swats at them. As a result, to avoid being whacked, they'll avoid that scent the next time.

Researchers at the University of Washington set up a complicated study of mosquito behavior and discovered that once they "learned odors in an aversive manner, those odors caused aversive responses on the same order as responses to DEET," said senior author Jeff Riffell, a UW professor of biology. "Moreover, mosquitoes remember the trained odors for days."

So, when those nasty buggers come at you, take a swing or two. They'll learn you are someone not to be reckoned with and we seek out a more passive human target!

(From a paper published in Current Biology, Jan 25, 2018)

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