Virginia Tech researchers: 'Mosquitoes are smarter than you think'

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)— Researchers at Virginia Tech say mosquitoes may be smarter than you think.

Dr. Clement Vineaugar has been studying mosquito behavior at the university for several years now.

“We knew that mosquitoes used different senses to find us, but we had no idea on how their brains processes this information and integrates information,” said Vineaugar.

That is, until now, and the findings were just published in the journal Current Biology.

One of the ways the researchers study mosquito behavior is at The Arena, it’s a visual reality environment for them. When their senses are stimulated with CO2, it sends a signal to the visual area of the brain.

“That makes mosquitoes better and more accurate when they track visual objects,” said Vineaugar.

Basically mosquitoes are smart enough to see us, even though it may not be crystal clear, based on our movements, they can decide if they’re going to approach for a bite. Vineaugar said if it looks like you might swat at them, they know better to back away.

“They have to make the right decisions and be very effective in their approach, so while they fly, they integrate all of this information from us and refine their approach as they move closer to us,” Vineaugar said.

Perhaps this may be a little unsettling, but the hope is to use this information on mosquitoes to modify our ways to control the population.

“I think the direct applications will come in the next couple of years when we refine these traps or improve our control strategies,” Vineaugar said. “We need to look at the bigger picture to fully understand what makes them so efficient.”