Without their keen sense of smell, mosquitoes wouldn’t get very far. They rely on this sense to find a host to bite and spots to lay eggs.
And without that sense of smell, mosquitoes could not locate their dominant source of food: nectar from flowers.
“Nectar is an important source of food for all mosquitoes,” said Jeffrey Riffell, a professor of biology at the University of Washington. “For male mosquitoes, nectar is their only food source, and female mosquitoes feed on nectar for all but a few days of their lives.”
Yet scientists know little about the scents that draw mosquitoes toward certain flowers, or repel them from others. This information could help develop less toxic and better repellents, more effective traps and understand how the mosquito brain responds to sensory information — including the cues that, on occasion, lead a female mosquito to bite one of us.