How do mosquitoes identify their prey and suck blood?« Back to Questions List

Mosquitoes are known for their annoying activity of sucking blood from the human body. But it has been found that only the female mosquitoes are the blood suckers. The male mosquitoes live on plant juices and nectar. A mosquito does not have a biting jaw. Instead its mouth can pierce and suck. As it penetrates the human skin with its needle like proboscis (a long, thin tube that forms part of the mouth of insects), it injects saliva laden with a substance that keeps blood from clotting. It is a reaction to this substance that causes the subsequent swelling of a mosquito bite.


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Mosquitoes find their prey with the help of sensors. With the help of chemical sensors, they can sense certain chemicals in sweat, carbon dioxide and lactic acid up to 100 ft. With the help of visual sensors, they attack us when we wear clothing in contrast to the background and are moving. They can also sense heat and hence spot warm-blooded mammals and birds easily.


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Mosquitoes belong to the fly clan, and numerous other species including houseflies, greenhead flies share the bloodsucking propensity. In these insects too only adult females suck blood and males live on nectar and pollen.




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