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Mosquitoes able to ‘Smell’ and ‘Taste’ Repellents

A taste receptor has been discovered for the first time in the mouthpart of mosquitoes by Joseph Dickens, an entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service.

Mosquitoes not only have a smell for certain insect repellents but they also have a taste for it. The taste receptor in the mouthpart is sensitive to DEET, which is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents.

It has been proven that DEET interacts with the mosquito’s smell (olfactory) receptor cells, which causes them to become confused and fly away. However, Dickens’ research demonstrated how DEET interacts with the mosquito’s taste (gustatory) receptor which could indicate the existence of a sensory pathway for taste that deters blood feeding by the insects.