Mosquitoes not only have a sense of smell for certain insect repellents, but they also have a sense of taste for these chemicals, according to scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Joseph Dickens, an entomologist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, discovered for the first time that a taste receptor located on a mouthpart of mosquitoes is sensitive to DEET, the most common active ingredient in insect repellents.
Scientists have known for some time that DEET works by interacting with the mosquito’s smell (olfactory) receptor cells, causing the insect to become confused and to fly away. Dickens’ findings, published in Naturwissenschaften, demonstrate that DEET also interacts with a specific mosquito taste (gustatory) receptor, which could indicate the existence of a sensory pathway for taste that deters blood feeding by the insects.
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