To find human hosts, mosquitoes must integrate sensory cues that are separated in space and time. To solve this challenge my collaborators Michael Dickinson, Jeff Riffell, and Adrienne Fairhall and I showed that mosquitoes respond to exhaled CO2 by exploring visual features they otherwise ignore. This guides them to potential hosts, where they use cues such as heat and humidity to locate a landing site.
Coauthored with: Jeff Riffell, Adrienne Fairhall, Michael Dickinson. Read more about our work in Current Biology.
Animation: The above animations show a collection of 200-500 mosquito trajectories, each aligned to the moment when they last passed through a CO2 plume. Only trajectories that approach either the room temperature (blue), or the 37° C (orange), object are shown. Note that the mosquito trajectories were recorded at different times, and superimposed for presentation purposes. Only 20 mosquitoes were released into the (1.5x.3x.3 m^3) wind tunnel at a time, and rarely were there more than a few flying simultaneously – in flight interactions were rare. Note how the mosquitoes spend more time near the warm object.