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Images and video of various species of mosquitoes (chiefly female Anopheles mosquitoes) showing most of them involved in the blood meal through which they can transmit diseases


There are about 3,500 species of mosquitoes. Three of the genera that are primary vectors for deadly diseases are: Aedes genus mosquitoes that cause yellow fever, dengue fever, and filariasis; Anopheles genus mosquitoes that carry malaria; and mosquitoes in the Culex genus that are vectors for filariasis, avian malaria, West Nile Virus, Japanese encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis. The diseases mosquitoes carry affect more than 700 million people a year.

These diseases are passed from victim to victim only by female mosquitoes. They have a special body part that juts out from their head. This proboscis is actually a sheath for two hollow tubes: one that injects saliva into the victim to keep its blood from coagulating and one that draws in the victim's blood. At the end of the tubes are two pairs of cutters that the mosquito uses to literally saw through the victim's skin.

The females need blood to nourish their eggs. They can lay 30-150 eggs every two to three days, so their need for blood is pretty exhaustive.

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Learning Objective

After viewing these images, students will be able to visualize and describe the process of a mosquito biting a person.

Standards Addressed
Can be used with existing lesson plans on
Diseases and their transmission; malaria; anatomy; animal behavior; insects; mosquitoes; general biology
Additional ways to use this asset to enrich your curriculum
  • Function follows form As students experience this interactive, involve them in this discussion: Analyze the reasons that the Anopheles mosquito's proboscis is shaped the way it is. Look especially at width and depth. What other shapes might be useful in allowing her to take blood meals?
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