Malaria mosquitoes home in on foot order
ScienceDaily (May 6, 2011) — Malaria mosquitoes utilize CO2 from exhaled air to localize humans from afar. In the vicinity of their preferred host, they alter their course towards the human feet. Researcher Remco Suer discovered how female malaria mosquitoes use foot odors in the last meters to guide them to their favoured biting place. Suer, who is defending his doctoral thesis May 9 at Wageningen University, part of Wageningen UR, sees possibilities to disrupt the host seeking behaviour of the malaria mosquito.
African malaria mosquitoes, Anopheles gambiae, use their olfactory organs, two antennae, two mouthparts (maxillary palps) and the proboscis, to search for their hosts to obtain a bloodmeal. From a distance of several tens of meters mosquitoes detect CO2 which forms part of exhaled air by humans. However, a malaria mosquito does not follow the CO2 trail to its source, the mouth, but at a certain point close to the source is diverted toward the feet, which is the preferred biting place for this mosquito species.