Entomologists are constantly looking for new ways to combat mosquito-borne disease. Being they are the most deadly animal on the planet, it is vital we support those looking for innovative strategies to slow the spread and/or eliminate diseases like Malaria, West Nile virus, Chikungunya, and Zika virus. While we’ve shared stories of genetically modified mosquitoes that interrupt the life-cycle, large-scale mosquito eradication efforts, and prevention methods using repellents and mosquito nets, this new method of attack against mosquito-borne illness is unique and promising.
Among the 3,500 species of mosquitoes, not all feast on humans. It is the individual species’ odorant receptors that determine its preference for humans or other animals. You probably have read a variety of stories telling you why mosquitoes prefer you over your spouse or friends – this receptor is related.
The Record Courier out of Nevada reports that Andrew Nuss and Dennis Mathew, entomologists from University of Nevada, Reno, are working to identify which odorant receptors make mosquitoes choose humans as their blood-meal preference. They are hoping to develop a method for modifying the genes that govern those preferences so they can “create mosquito strains that avoid biting humans.”
CHANGING MOSQUITOES’ FOOD PREFERENCES
With humans living in highly condensed urban areas, mosquitoes that feed on humans are able to transmit and spread disease quickly. Nuss and Mathew hope to eliminate the receptors that cause those mosquitoes to feed on humans. Or, they might replace those receptors with those from other mosquito species that do not feed on humans. Those mosquitoes would then feed on other animals and leave humans out of the mix.
The scientists feel the method will be a superior strategy for mosquito-borne disease prevention because the mosquitoes can still feed on other animals and remain part of their current eco-systems. What do you think of this approach?
At Mosquito Squad of Leominster, we are determined to keep you up to date on the latest local and worldwide mosquito news. The more we all know, the better we can prevent dangerous mosquito-borne diseases. If you have any questions, call us today.