Everyone has the one friend who gets eaten alive by mosquitos at BBQs and camping trips. But do mosquitoes actually prefer certain flavours of blood?
The answer - according to one new study - is yes (sort of).
Research out of Virginia Tech University has found that mosquitoes can learn and remember human smells, and this will cause them to develop a preference for certain hosts (humans), and certain individuals within the species (i.e. that one friend of yours).
But don't despair if those bloodsuckers have developed a taste for you! Even if you're the sweetest smelling human in the area, you can keep those pesky bugs away by swatting at them non-stop.
Turns out, mosquitos will also remember unpleasant events, such as swats, and this will discourage them from going back to their favourite feeding grounds. Researchers figured this out by training female Aedis Aegypti mosquitoes to associate smells with unpleasant shocks and vibrations.
Then, 24 hours later, they were put in a maze with their preferred smell at one end and a control smell at the other. They chose the one that didn’t get them shocked.
The best part of this study is that they also put the mosquitoes in a flight simulator, wearing tiny helmets to measure their brainwaves, and exposing them to different smells to determine their preferences. Which is adorable even if bugs make your skin crawl.