Olfaction is a key insect adaptation to a wide range of habitats. In the last thirty years, the detection of octenol by blood-feeding insects has been primarily understood in the context of animal host-seeking. The recent discovery of a conserved octenol receptor gene in the strictly nectar-feeding elephant mosquito Toxorhynchites amboinensis (TaOr8) suggests a different biological role. Here, we show that TaOR8 is a functional ortholog of its counterparts in blood-feeding mosquitoes displaying selectivity towards the (R)-enantiomer of octenol and susceptibility to the insect repellent DEET. These findings suggest that while the function of OR8 has been maintained throughout mosquito evolution, the context in which this receptor is operating has diverged in blood and nectar-feeding mosquitoes.