Swatting away mosquitoes can train these pesky bugs to avoid you. Findings of a new study have found that when you swat these pests, they will learn to associate your scent to danger.
In a new study published in the journal Current Biology, Jeff Riffell, from University of Washington, and colleagues "trained" female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to associate certain odors with unpleasant shocks and vibrations, similar to those these bugs experience when somebody tries to swat them.
The trained mosquitoes eventually learned to abandon most of the hosts whose smell is associated with unpleasant vibrations.
The researchers said that the findings mean swatting away mosquito essentially teaches them to avoid you.
"Mosquitoes can learn whether or not you are trying to swat them, and then they will pretty much avoid you thereafter for about 24 hours," Riffell says. "If another person is in the room, they will go and try to bite them,"
Mosquitoes are vectors of viruses that cause yellow fever, chikungunya, Zika, and dengue. Researchers continue to conduct studies and experiments to develop vaccines that can provide protection for mosquito-transmitted diseases. While there have been developments, the best way to avoid contracting mosquito-borne diseases is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.
Use Insect Repellent
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents to avoid mosquito bites.
"DEET is the standard," said Mustapha Debboun, director of the Mosquito and Vector Control division of Harris County Public Health in Houston Texas. "All the repellents being tested are tested to see if they beat DEET."
Wear Protective Clothing
Use of insect repellents, however, is not recommended for babies below 2 months old. Products with lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) should not also be used for children below 3 years old. The CDC recommends that babies and young children wear clothing that covers their arms and legs. Mosquito netting should also be used to cover strollers, cribs, and baby carriers.
For those living in regions infested with mosquitoes, experts advise staying indoors in screened or air conditioned buildings. Make your home less appealing to mosquitoes by not leaving water on mugs, buckets, and glasses. Standing water provides a good breeding ground for mosquitoes.
"Aedes aegypti mosquitoes lay eggs on the walls of water-filled containers. Eggs stick to containers like glue and remain attached until they are scrubbed off. The eggs can survive when they dry out—up to 8 months. When it rains or water covers the eggs, they hatch and become adults in about a week," CDC said.