A team of French scientists has managed to capture on video a malaria-carrying mosquito extracting blood from an anesthetized mouse while under a microscope.
The footage has been captured by researchers at Pasteur Institute in Paris who have found that the mosquito does not draw blood immediately after piercing the skin but instead probes around for some time until it can find a blood vessel. Its snout is not a single, narrow tube but a system of tools covered by the labium which can bend at right angles.
To check whether mosquitoes behaved differently if they bit animals that are vaccinated against their saliva, the researchers vaccinated a mice with antibodies that recognized a mosquito's saliva. They found clumps forming at the tips of the mosquito's probing mouthparts, which indicated that the antibodies were working. The clumps clogged the smaller blood vessels but instead of stopping, the mosquito simply probed longer to find larger blood vessels.
"I was genuinely amazed to see the footage. I had read that the mouthparts were mobile within the skin, but actually seeing it in real time was superb. What you assume to be a rigid structure, because it has to get into the skin like a needle, is actually flexible and fully controllable. The wonders of the insect body never cease to amaze me!", London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's James Logan, who was not involved in the study, said.