How mosquitoes associate scents with swats

A mosquito flies on the end of a tether during an experiment to study responses to a swat-like shock. (Kiley Riffell Photo via University of Washington)

Does it do any good to swat at a mosquito if you miss? Yes, according to a newly published study.

A novel experiment conducted primarily by biologists at the University of Washington found that mosquitoes seem to associate the shock of the swat with the swatter’s scent, and learn to stay away.

“Once mosquitoes learned odors in an aversive manner, those odors caused aversive responses on the same order as responses to DEET, which is one of the most effective mosquito repellents,” senior author Jeff Riffell, a UW biology professor, said in a news release.

“Moreover, mosquitoes remember the trained odors for days,” he said.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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