How Targeting Genes Can Stop Mosquitoes from Biting

February 14, 2018

How researchers are closing in on getting mosquitoes to stop biting

True or false: both male and female mosquitos bite humans? If you guessed true, you are wrong. That's right. While males feed on nectar, females feast on blood. Not only do bites cause infuriating itching, they can spread certain infections and diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus, dengue and Zika. Fortunately, a team of scientists from the University of Birmingham in the UK, the University of Notre Dame in Paris and researchers in the US, are getting closer to figuring out how to prevent female mosquitoes from biting. After all, if there's no biting, they'll be no more disease transmission.

It's in the genes

While the females are the disease-spreading culprits, not all species are biters. The team of scientists has been hard at work trying to differentiate the biters from the non-biters. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they started looking at 20,000 genes and have identified 902 genes specific to blood-feeding mosquitoes and 478 genes in non-blood feeding mosquitoes. The study was carried out on the Wyeomyia smithii species as they're the only known species that has females that bite and don't bite. The careful method involved directional gene selection which produced an aggressive line of biting mosquitoes and a line of more gentle non-biters.

The research team also examined known metabolic pathways of the isolated genes. They found that key proteins are being produced in both biters and non-biters, but the linking enzymes that determine which metabolic pathways are turned on are missing in the non-biters.

What this means for the future

The method used to isolate biting and non-biting genes in this research will now be used in other species with the goal of isolating universal biting genes. Scientists would then be able to figure out how to suppress the blood-biting behavior while still allowing mosquitoes to thrive and keep their place in the food chain and ecosystem. If they can stop the biting, they can effectively stop the dangerous spread of deadly vector-borne diseases.

In the meantime…

While this news is definitely exciting and researchers are headed in the right direction, we still have to contend with these pesky little critters for a long while. Until the females stop biting, rely on MosquitoNix® to customize a solution for flying insect control that works best for your residential or commercial space. Enjoy your time outdoors even in the hot, humid months by selecting one of our permanent, temporary or portable mosquito control options. Our licensed, trained and friendly specialists will evaluate your property and give you their expert opinion on the best treatment for your specific needs. Our services include custom misting systems, ongoing and monthly fogging treatments, spraying for special events, portable mosquito control and all-natural options. For families with children and pets, our natural sprays are safely made from such botanical ingredients as peppermint oil, chrysanthemum flower extract and clove extract.

Contact us today to set up your free consultation and transform your space into a pest-free outdoor experience.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.