Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Feasting mosquito

Yesterday when i was taking photos of the bird of paradise flower [and also some snails hiding within the leaves], I noticed a mosquito had landed on my hand and was starting to drink my blood.
I took a couple of shots of it before brushing it off and they turned out remarkably well. It probably helps that I'm ambidextrous.

I think its an Aedes sp mosquito since it had a pointed abdomen and has short palpi. A palpus is a sticklike something found near the mouth parts of insects , arachnids, etc and is thought to be related to food gathering and sensing the environment.

Only female mosquitoes suck blood- they require blood meals for egg production although they may also eat nectar. Male mosquitoes often don't eat before reproducing and dying ; but if they live long enough, they only eat nectar and fruit juices.

Mosquites find their prey by sight [to a limited extent] , smell , carbon dioxide concentration [from exhaled breath] and heat detection. Mosquito repellents apparently block the sensors and prevent the mosquito from finding their victims.

The feeding parts of a mosquito are not really like a hypodermic syringe as is popularly believed. They are actually serrated in order to minimise pain sensation in the victim and in order to cut through the surface layers of skin. Mosquito saliva contains an anticoagulant , which prevents the blood clotting when the mosquito reaches the blood and drinks. The saliva is also the cause of the localised swelling and redness as many people are sensitive to the saliva.

Mosquito saliva may also contain parasites [malaria] and viruses [west nile virus, dengue fever] and because of this mosquitoes have killed more humans than any other creature in the history of the world.


JacqueLynn said...

Amazing pictures, incredibly well focused, esp with only one hand and the other one being attacked. WOW, I guess you paid the price by having an itchy hand the rest of the day, but truely I don't think I have ever seen that excellent of a close up of a mosquito before.

Lesley said...

Wow. Excellent photos. Do you find they like your Scottish skin? They certainly like mine.

Wellybog said...

Amazing photos - weird though. I found my skin crawling just a little bit when I figured out that the mosquito was actually drinking your blood while you stood and watched :)

marion said...

My daughters were totally grossed out that you could let that mosquito suck your blood with impunity!! Great photos though. You have truly suffered for your art!!

Alison Ashwell said...

I think they love Scottish blood - maybe its something to do with being exposed to midgies for years =)