Scientists have found that sleepy mosquitoes would rather make up for lost sleep than look for food the next day. Oh study shows that even insects depend on adequate sleep.
This action of making up for lost sleep is called “sleep”. When an individual is not sleeping required amount hours, or is under great stress when awake, the body may need more sleep the next day. Return to sleep happens to people and animals, including insects such as fruit flies and mosquitoes.
Researchers were especially careful when developing study protocols. Observation can affect the outcome of the experiment, especially when mosquitoes are analyzed.
These little insects can feel it the presence of people through our body heat, movement, vibration, and even the carbon dioxide we exhale while breathing. It’s hard to watch them sleep when they see you as Christmas dinner.
Scientists set up the experiment in a quieter part of the University of Cincinnati campus, where there was no movement of people, and they set up cameras and infrared sensors to record the movement of insects without interfering with them.
Mosquitoes sleep a lot in the laboratory. Something between 16 and 19 hours a day, depending on the species. But it’s not easy to recognize sleeping mosquitoes – when they’re not wandering around looking for food, they lie down for a long time to conserve energy.
Researchers have identified a subtle signal that allows them to distinguish between calm mosquitoes and those that sleep. When they enter a state of sleep, their hind legs drop and their body approaches the surface.
Using the images to identify this behavior, the scientists analyzed three different species, with also different habits: the well-known Aedes aegyptiwho transmits dengue and has daily habits; Culex pipiens, common mosquito, active at dusk; it is anopheles stephensispecies of the genus anophelestransmitters from malariamore active at night.
For the first week, they studied mosquitoes’ eating and sleeping habits. Then, in another experiment, they tried to deprive them of sleep by interfering with their sleep. This was done by periodically vibrating the compartments where the mosquitoes were staying.
While more than 75% of mosquitoes that 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 make up for lost sleep.” he said Joshua Benoit, one of the authors of the study.
Tired mosquitoes were less likely to land on hosts, both in the laboratory environment and in the field. This indicates that the behavior can occur in natural conditions, outside of experiments.
According to the World Health Organization, mosquito it is the animal that causes the most human deaths – carriers of diseases such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever. By understanding the sleep cycle – the circadian cycle – of these insects, 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.