I have read articles that say mosquitoes detect humans through carbon dioxide exhalation and body odour. When we wave our hand around a mosquito, it usually flies away from ground (even if it initially moves towards it after immediate stimulus). How do indoor mosquitoes 'know' that they are moving 'up', that is, against gravity?

My hypotheses is that instead of detecting whether their direction of motion is against gravity, they somehow measure their distance from the ground but I doubt this because I chased a mosquito up the stairs and its distance from the steps remained almost constant. When I ran down the stairs, the mosquito still tried to swerve around me and move upwards.

If the above hypotheses is wrong, can you link to some experimental evidence as well? (Not necessarily experiments on mosquitoes)

What I could find

Honey bees (Apis mellifica) were unable to fly normally and tumbled in weightlessness. House flies (Muscus domestica ) mostly limited themselves to walking on the walls. When they did fly, they apparently could control motion in all three axes, although flight only lasted for a few seconds. Moths (Anticarsis gammatalis) that developed in space, learned not to fly and preferred to float without wing beat. Whereas adults that were developed on Earth, then sent into space, had problems controlling pitch.

This answer links to sources which directly consider the idea of the influence of Earth's magnetic field (not gravity) but looking at the comments, I am having second thoughts.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Invertebrate solutions for sensing gravity $\endgroup$
    – Domen
    Aug 19, 2022 at 13:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Aug 19, 2022 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ Insects also use the skylight and horizon to maintain attitude. Did those experiments provide for that? Of course, it doesn't explain how insects fly indoors. They obviously integrate many methods. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Aug 19, 2022 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


Coordination between Cerci (on last segmet of body) to detect gravity; compound eye (can se 10-15 feet) ;vector memory of their home & surrounding and body organs (as mentioned in above comment of user:domen) to detect inertia (inertia inturn detects direction and acceleration)

  • $\begingroup$ We're looking for long answers that provide explanation, context, and include references to reliable sources. Don't just give a short answer; explain why your answer is right with appropriate citations. This is a good example of how to format references. $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Aug 22, 2022 at 2:13

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