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10 Insects We Love to Study


Congratulations, lowly mosquito: You're one of the insects we humans study a lot because of the diseases you spread. Now go away already. auimeesri/iStock/Thinkstock
Congratulations, lowly mosquito: You're one of the insects we humans study a lot because of the diseases you spread. Now go away already. auimeesri/iStock/Thinkstock

The next time a mosquito attacks you, blame yourself. You're a delicious treat because of your genetic makeup. According to a study released in April 2015 and published in PLOS One, a person's DNA is one of the determining factors for why the bugs bite humans — or don't bite, as the case may be. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine asked 37 sets of twins to put their hands in a tube containing 20 blood-hungry female mosquitoes. Blood contains protein, which the mosquitoes need to reproduce. The bugs took a whiff of each hand. They flew toward some hands, while staying away from others [sources: Stein].

Specifically, the mosquitoes had the same level of attractiveness toward identical twins, who share most of their DNA, and different levels of attractiveness toward fraternal twins, who don't share as much. This told scientists that genes were the determining factors in why they bite or don't bite, possibly creating a natural repellent in some people. The next step researchers say is to identify those genes and then perhaps use them as a basis for a new bug repellent [sources: Stein, Kaplan].

The experiment was just one of many, many scientific inquiries into mosquitoes. Whether researchers are investigating their taxonomy, biology, response to biopesticides or something else, mosquitoes are one of the planet's most studied insects, but they're not the only ones. Here are 10 that lead the list.


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