There's a reason mosquitoes are more likely to bite you after the sun goes down: The bloodsuckers can smell you better at night.
In new work published in the journal Nature: Scientific Reports, a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame's Eck Institute for Global Health determined that the species of mosquitoes that spread malaria — the Anopheles gambiae — is somehow able to pick up the scent of a human host better at night.
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"During the day the mosquito is sleeping and doesn't need to smell you. But when the sun goes down, the mosquito's olfactory system becomes extra-sensitive, and she is ready to smell and then bite you," explained researcher Samuel Rund.
For the study, researchers tracked the biting habits of mosquitoes during a typical 24-hour day and examined the role of "chemosensory proteins" in the insect antennae and mouth parts that help them sniff out humans.
They found mosquitoes have higher concentrations of the proteins in their sensory organs at night than during the day.
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