Because smell is essential to mosquito survival, each mosquito has three pairs of “noses” for sensing odours: two antennae, two maxillary palps and two labella.
The maxillary palps are thick, fuzzy appendages that protrude from the lower region of the mosquito’s head, more or less parallel to its proboscis, the long, flexible sheath that keeps its “feeding needle” under wraps until needed. At the very tip of the proboscis are the labella, two small regions that contain both “gustatory” neurons that pick up tastes and olfactory neurons for recognising odorants.
This image shows a female Anopheles gambiae mosquito with olfactory neurons on her antennae, maxillary palp and labella labeled in green. For more, see a paper published in Nature Communications.
Originally published by Cosmos as The (triple) nose knows
Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.