Researchers have found that sleepy mosquitoes would rather catch up on lost sleep than seek food the next day. ISLAND examination shows that even insects depend on adequate sleep.
This act of regaining lost sleep is called “sleepbound”. When a person is not sleeping necessary amount hours, or is under high stress when awake, the body may need more sleep the next day. Sleep rebound occurs for humans and animals, including insects such as banana fluer and mosquitoes.
The researchers were extra careful as they developed the protocols for the study. Observation can affect the result of the experiment, especially when analyzing mosquitoes.
These little insects feel presence of people through our body heat, movement, vibrations and even the carbon dioxide we exhale when we breathe. It’s hard to see them sleeping when they see you as a Christmas dinner.
The researchers set up the experiment in a quieter part of the University of Cincinnati campus, where there was no movement of humans, and installed cameras and infrared sensors to detect the movements of the insects without disturbing them.
Mosquitoes sleep a lot in the laboratory. Something between 16 and 19 hours a day, depending on the species. But it is not easy to recognize a dormant mosquito – when they are not looking around for food, they sleep for long periods to save energy.
The researchers identified a subtle signal that allows them to distinguish between mosquitoes that are quiet and those that are sleeping. When they enter the sleep state, their hind legs are lowered and their body approaches the surface.
Using the recordings to identify this behavior, the researchers analyzed three different species with also different habits: the well-known Aedes aegyptiwho transmit dengue and have daytime habits; Culex pipiens, the common mosquito, active at dusk; It is anopheles stephensispecies of the genus anophelestransmitters of malariamore active at night.
First, they studied the mosquitoes’ eating and sleeping habits for a week. Then, in another experiment, they tried to deprive them of sleep by disturbing them during their bedtime. This was done by periodically vibrating the rooms where the mosquitoes stayed.
While more than 75% of the mosquitoes who had normal sleep sought a meal, less than 25% of them were interested in food after a period of poor sleep. “Although mosquitoes need blood to produce eggs, they will give up to catch up on the sleep they lost.” said Joshua Benoit, one of the study’s authors.
Tired mosquitoes were less likely to land on hosts, both in the laboratory environment and in the field. This indicates that the behavior may also occur under natural conditions outside of experiments.
According to the World Health Organization mosquito it is the animal that causes the most human deaths – transmitting diseases such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever. By understanding the sleep cycle – circadian cycle – of these insects, the researchers hope to find ways to control them and prevent infections. “It’s important to understand their sleep dynamics when they eat and when they sleep,” Benoit said.