University of Cambridge > > SCI Cambridge Science Talks > BITING BACK AT BLOOD-SUCKING INSECTS


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Why do some people always get bitten by mosquitoes while others are left alone?

Mosquitoes are attracted to our body odour, but until now, differential attraction was not fully understood. At Rothamsted Research we have demonstrated that several behaviour-modifying chemicals that repel or ‘mask’ some individuals are responsible for this phenomenon. This talk will describe how we used sophisticated analytical chemistry techniques and behavioural experiments to unravel this complex story. Some exciting new results from our field-based repellency trials against many biting insects, including the Scottish biting midge and the malaria mosquito, will also be revealed.

FOR SCIENTISTS : Haematophagous insects are differentially attracted to odours from individual human hosts. However, the responsible semiochemicals have not been identified previously. Using techniques including gas chromatography (GC), GC-electroantennorgaphy and GC-mass spectrometry, we have identified several behaviourally active compounds that are responsible for differential attraction. These compounds show great potential for their use in control technologies against biting insects.

The lecture will be suitable for GCSE students. Free admission. N.B. No tickets – so come early to get a good seat. Doors open at 18:30.

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This talk is part of the SCI Cambridge Science Talks series.

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