DEC 21, 2017 07:35 AM PST

Mosquitoes: how they suck our blood


We all know the dangers of mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. From malaria to zika to West Nile virus to dengue fever, these mosquito-borne diseases kill hundreds of thousands of people each year. Children and pregnant women are most vulnerable, though I can speak from my own chikungunya experience to say that there's never a fun time to get struck down by a mosquito disease. But how are mosquitoes so adept at what they do? Let's take a closer look.

You may have heard the fact that female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite us. That's because females need the nutrients from our blood to make their eggs. So when a female mosquito is feeling those familiar hunger pains, she uses her proboscis to suck our blood right? Well, yes, but it's a bit more complicated than that.

Mosquitoes actually have 6 needles that they use to get the job done. Two of those needles have tiny saw-like teeth on them, which they use to cut through our skin. These needles are so sharp that you can barely even feel them entering your skin. Two other needles help this process by holding back the skin so that the mosquito can dig deeper to reach your yummy blood. But finding a blood vessel isn't always easy, and that's where one of the other needles comes in: she uses it to probe for hormones that our blood vessels emit naturally. When she finds that treasured blood vessel, she uses the same needle to suck up as much blood as she can hold, while at the same time using the last needle to spit chemicals into us that make the blood flow more easily, and also give us annoying bug bites later. Who knew a mosquito's anatomy was so complex! Want to learn how mosquitoes pass diseases to us? Watch the video!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 19, 2018
Videos
NOV 19, 2018
The Amazon's worst enemy
Brazil has a new leader, and he could be the Amazon’s biggest enemy yet. President Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to sell off large portions of the rainf...
NOV 26, 2018
Health & Medicine
NOV 26, 2018
A New Test for Fibromyalgia
Anyone who has experienced severe, chronic pain knows the long process it takes to get a correct diagnosis. Many people see an average of 5-6 specialists b...
NOV 28, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 28, 2018
Some Animals Thrive in Wildfires
We often associate wildfires with destruction and devastation, but horrendous damages aside, what happens to all the animals that inhabit those forests? As...
NOV 28, 2018
Videos
NOV 28, 2018
Nanorobots That can Move Through the Eye
Researchers want to create tiny drug delivery systems that can move through biological tissue....
DEC 05, 2018
Cancer
DEC 05, 2018
Zika virus as a weapon against brain cancer
Glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of Brain Cancer with an average survival rate of less than two years with treatment. So what if there could be a cure for this type of cancer....
DEC 10, 2018
Health & Medicine
DEC 10, 2018
What To Expect During Your Stress Test
If you or a loved one has been scheduled for a treadmill stress test, you may be wondering what you can expect. The procedure is usually done in a hospital...
Loading Comments...