Seven Things Worth Knowing About Mosquitos

Seven things worth knowing about mosquitoes

Leo Braack, University of Pretoria

This article is part of a series on malaria. You can read the rest of the series here.

1. Not all mosquitoes bite.

The female mosquitoes are the dangerous ones. They bite and draw blood. Male mosquitoes feed on flower nectar. Males have very hairy and fuzzy antennae (like a powder puff) whereas females have less hairy antennae.

2. There are three types of malaria carrying mosquitoes.

The top three malaria transmitters in Africa are Anopheles gambiae, Anopheles funestus and Anopheles arabiensis. The first two live in areas of Africa where there is higher rainfall while the third, Anopheles arabiensis, is a more savanna-based, arid zone species.

Gambiae and funestus prefer to feed indoors and are strongly attracted to humans, but arabiensis feeds as easily outdoors as indoors and also as easily on cattle and other animals as humans. This means it is easier to target gambiae and funestus using indoor methods such as spraying walls with insecticides and using insecticide-impregnated bed nets. The outdoor-feeding arabiensis is far more difficult to control.

In most areas all three species have a peak of biting in the early hours of the morning when people are in their deepest sleep and less likely to disturb mosquitoes during the feeding process. There are also other important species of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes but they are more localised in distribution.

3. Mosquitoes have started to change their feeding patterns.

Because of the strong focus on indoor strategies to fight malaria transmitting mosquitoes using bed nets and indoor spraying, genetic selection is resulting in some populations of these mosquitoes biting outdoors and earlier at night when people are not protected by bed nets. It means these mosquitoes are more difficult to reach with insecticides, just as is the case with Anopheles arabiensis.

4. Most mosquito —> Read More