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September 2, 2021

Batty Mosquitoes!

Having reviewed a comparative study on mosquitoes, NSF-funded researchers are exploring why blood-sucking flies discriminate when it comes to selecting their hosts. They've learned it's likely an attraction that might not even go skin-deep, but a community of bacteria that has taken up residence on the skin. Learn more with NSF's The Discovery Files.

Credit: National Science Foundation

Batty Mosquitoes!

Hi! I'm Mo Barrow with The Discovery Files, from NSF -- the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Does that sound make you nervous, ready to swat?

Those pesky mosquitoes! Why do they find some of us more appetizing than others?

NSF-funded researchers, led by the University of California, San Diego and Western Kentucky University, are exploring why some blood-sucking bugs discriminate when it comes to selecting their hosts.

They've learned it's likely an attraction that might not even go skin-deep.

In this study, the scientists studied blood-sucking flies that specialize in feasting on bats. They found the flies might be targeting their hosts by following the scent of chemicals produced by bacteria on their skin.

Taking a cue from mosquitoes, the flies are attracted to distinctive microbiomes, the unique community of bacteria, living on a person's skin.

Studying the flies' and mosquitoes' preferred targets, helps us better understand the pathways of disease transmission among humans by, you got it, mosquitoes!


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