Researchers are working diligently on alternative ways to stop mosquitoes from spreading dangerous and deadly diseases to humans. As we continue to watch the news from the science community, we love to share new and interesting breakthroughs. This time, scientists have discovered a protein in mosquitoes that are related to their attraction to human blood. And best of all, sugar affects this protein!
Reducing Infection by Reducing Attraction
The study focused on the Asian tiger mosquito. The Asian tiger is known to be plentiful in tropical parts of the world and is responsible for spreading diseases like Chikungunya, yellow fever, Zika, and more. It also happens they often live in densely populated urban areas and are especially attracted to humans.
The requirement for an attraction to consume blood comes when female Asian tiger mosquitoes need energy for developing eggs. But, did you know, mosquitoes also feed on sugars from plants? Asian tiger mosquitoes get their sugar from plants in the form of nectar or sap – similar to bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and other insects.
The Sugar Test
The researchers testing ways in which they can affect the protein that creates the urge to feed on human blood began by feeding a sugar solution to young female mosquitoes. Once they had a full belly, the researchers placed the mosquitoes in a cup and placed the open end against their hands to see if they still wanted to bite.
Interestingly, full-bellied females were not interested in human blood. AND, even more interesting, they were not interested in human blood for 5-6 days!
A Closer Look
To figure out more about WHY the mosquitoes would be satisfied by sugar, the researchers sequenced the RNA of the mosquitoes which had fed on the sugar. One of the gene changes they discovered was in a gene called Vg-2, which is a factor in ovary development for female mosquitoes. Turns out, when female mosquitoes eat sugar, “more of the gene is expressed.” In other words, the proteins needed for developing an embryo can be satisfied with sugar.
They even took the time to lower the expression of Vg-2 in mosquitoes they had fed sugar. Those mosquitoes would still be interested in human blood despite the sugar intake. The biological need to gain the nutrition needed to support egg growth and embryo development is inherent in a female mosquito eating habits.
The researchers hope to use this information to develop a non-lethal way to suppress the urge for mosquitoes to bite, which can significantly lower disease transmission.
Greenville Mosquito Control Today
Research continues, and a product still needs to be developed. So, while we are still years away from a mosquito-disease prevention method that takes advantage of this discovery, we urge you to take advantage of today’s best mosquito control. Barrier treatment remains the best way to eliminate mosquitoes from your yard to lower your risk for mosquito bites.
Call our team today to sign up for a season of mosquito-free living!