The End of Insect Bites
We try everything to avoid getting bitten by insects. We wear long sleeves and pants when it’s scorching outside. We wear smelly, sticky insect repellent that only seems to work half of the time. We burn insect repellent candles that don’t apparently protect much of anything from insect bites. Now with the rapid spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, the need for some kind of foolproof way to get insects to leave us alone is more evident than ever before. Luckily for us, researchers are experimenting with a new possible chemical that would make humans look much less tasty to nasty flying pests, and this time their dealing with the source of the problem, insect taste buds.
Researchers found gustatory receptors on the tongues of fruit flies that cause neural pathways to send a stop-feeding signal to the insects. Gustatory receptors help insects detect whether something is bitter or sweet, just like human taste buds. This discovery allows scientists to search for safe more effective chemicals that humans could use to deter insect bites. By using chemicals that would trigger this stop-feeding signal, insects would still land on us to see if we’d make a tasty treat, but their own taste buds would tell them to search elsewhere for food.
Do you think this discovery could lead to the development of better insect repellents? What would you want a newer better insect repellent to protect you against; just the bite, or anything else?