The female mosquito is attracted to a host by scent, moisture, temperature, color, movement, and for some species, sound. There are an estimated 400 chemicals emitted from human skin and about 100 volatile compounds in each human breathe that mosquitoes can detect. The combination and amount of chemicals given off is believed to be why some people are more readily bitten than other people. Female mosquitoes can detect a host to feed on at a distance of 20 - 40 yards, dependent on species and weather conditions. The female mosquito is most active between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 95 degrees Fahrenheit in calm or light breeze conditions. Most species of female mosquito take about 90 seconds to complete a blood meal.
The female mosquito is sensitive to a variety of chemicals when she begins searching for a blood meal. Carbon dioxide is important for long-distance orientation. Scientists consider carbon dioxide as the single most important cue used by mosquitoes for locating a source of blood. Researchers have estimated that a person gives off 275 ml/min of carbon dioxide, resulting in a concentration in the air of between 0.01% and 1.0%.
The continued study of mosquito attractants has clarified the role of lactic acid, ammonia, phenol, temperature and humidity. Scientists at the USDA research laboratory in Florida have cataloged more than 340 chemicals emitted by humans that attract mosquitoes!
Mosquitoes appear to have preference for the area of the body they select for a blood meal. Anophelean and Aedean spp. of mosquito select areas of an increased temperature and sweat gland density (moisture!). Mosquitoes respond to humidity and temperature gradients associated with convection currents. Factors such as relative humidity (RH) play a role in short term responses to mosquitoes.
Mosquito vision is known to play a role in location of resources such as hosts (people to bite!). Factors affecting mosquito vision include the amount of light and time of day. Studies have shown that for both long-range orientation and short-range orientation, mosquitoes discern movement, colors, shapes and patterns. Research has shown that specific light colors increase or decrease the attractiveness of different species.
Capturing large numbers of female mosquitoes with a mosquito trap on a daily basis can implode the local population of mosquitoes in a given local. This is accomplished by both immediately removing biting females and by eliminating them from the breeding pool. Less mosquitoes laying eggs equals less mosquitoes emerging!
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