The deaf mosquito is no longer able to mate. Why is this good news in disease control? | Science and the planet

Besides being the arch enemy of many people, mosquitoes are also a very interesting creature. For example, a male can find a suitable mate mainly by ear within a flock of thousands upon thousands of noisy conspecifics. How he does it, researchers from University College London and the University of Oldenburg wanted to know. Maybe it can be prevented?

They focused on the malaria mosquito, which transmits the disease that kills hundreds of thousands every year. They saw how males were able to find females only when everyone gathered in a swarm. They flap their wings at a different frequency than men, and by pulling their ears males can hear the difference. This was accompanied by a peak in the signals from the molecule Octopamine In the male body. Additional research showed that this substance is necessary to find the female by ear.

This is precisely a molecular process that is actually hindered by some existing pesticides. These are not used against mosquitoes, but are used against ticks and mites. The initial test was encouraging for the researchers: the moth’s venom disrupted the balance of octopamine in male mosquitoes.

Therefore, it is expected that these insecticides can hinder the reproduction of mosquito populations. The extent of this inconvenience must be determined through empirical research. But every additional tool in the fight against the malaria mosquito and other diseases such as dengue or yellow fever is very welcome. Mosquito resistance to existing insecticides is rapidly increasing.

He. She research Featured in the magazine Nature Communications.

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Megan Vasquez

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