Mosquitos *taste* heat.

Science Daily has more on the strange, previously unknown sensory organ in insects:

Notice how mosquitoes always seem to bite where there is the most blood? That is because those areas are the warmest, says Paul Garrity, a professor of biology in the National Center for Behavioral Genomics at Brandeis who co-authored the paper.

“If you can find a mosquito’s temperature receptor, you can potentially produce a more effective repellent or trap,” Garrity says. “The discovery of this new temperature receptor in the fruit fly gives scientists an idea of where to look for similar receptors in the mosquito and in other insects.”

Professor of Biology Leslie Griffith and Associate Professor of Biochemistry Douglas Theobald assisted with the research, which was led by postdoctoral fellows Lina Ni and Peter Bronk.

The newly discovered sensor belongs to a family of proteins, called gustatory receptors, that have been studied for over a decade but never linked to thermosensation, Garrity says. In previous studies, other gustatory receptors have been found to allow insects to smell carbon dioxide and to taste sugar and bitter chemicals like caffeine.

But in fruit flies, one type of gustatory receptor senses heat rather than smell or taste.