New chemical compound could make humans "invisible" to mosquitoesJoseph Bennington-Castro12/06/13 5:05pmFiled to: neurosciencehealthmedicinescienceinfectious diseasesbody odorinsectsbiology3213EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkIt's a breakthrough in the fight against disease-carrying mosquitoes. Researchers have found a chemical that disables the part of the insect's brain that smells humans. Future bug repellents based on the compounds could give people an invisibility cloak against the winged pests. We talked to a scientist who worked on the discovery to find out more.AdvertisementThere are three main ways that mosquitoes zero in on their targets. The strongest mosquito attractant is carbon dioxide (CO2), which the insects can detect from a distance of up to 20 to 30 meters. "The reason mosquitoes and other blood-feeding insects have evolved to detect CO2 is because every living vertebrate is going to produce a lot of CO2 as turbulent plumes," said Anandasankar Ray, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside. "It doesn't just dissipate; the prevailing wind will carry it almost like cigarette smoke gets carried away."At closer range, mosquitoes can sense different odors that are emitted from the skin (human skin odor is mostly the byproduct of skin microbes, which break down sweat to produce smelly volatiles). Finally, mosquitoes can detect body heat. Some research has also suggested that mosquitoes are attracted to certain blood types, which may be mediated by different odor molecules, but the evidence for this idea is not robust, Ray told io9.ShareTweet Kinja is in read-only mode. We are working to restore service.