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When a Mosquito Cannot Cease Ingesting Blood, the Outcome Is not Fairly

When a Mosquito Cannot Cease Ingesting Blood, the Outcome Is not Fairly

2023-04-22 07:01:14

engorged Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

An Aedes aegypti mosquito with an abnormally massive blood meal (left) subsequent to typical engorged mosquito (proper) for comparability. (Photograph by Perran Ross, Ph.D.

By Perran Ross, Ph.D.

Perran Ross, Ph.D.

Perran Ross, Ph.D.

An city legend says that should you tense your muscle when a mosquito bites you and feeds in your blood, it will possibly swell up and explode. With mosquitoes usually cited as probably the most hated creature on the planet, the concept of with the ability to make them burst at will is probably an interesting one to many. However, having spent the higher a part of a decade feeding mosquitoes by myself arms for analysis, I can confidently say that it’s a myth. There’s, nonetheless, a technique to make mosquitoes really burst; all it takes is a gentle hand and a few forceps.

The primary ever exploding mosquitoes may be attributed to Robert Gwadz, Ph.D., in a discovery that was made through basic laboratory research over 50 years ago. He discovered that making an incision within the ventral nerve twine of a mosquito cuts off the sign to cease feeding, giving it an unquenchable thirst for blood. Mosquitoes which have undergone this process can drink in extra of 4 occasions their weight and will ultimately burst. This led Gwadz to a speculation that blood ingestion is regulated by belly stretch receptors that stop mosquitoes from (fairly actually) ingesting themselves to loss of life.

Mosquito ventral nerve cord incision diagram

Severing or crushing the ventral nerve twine of a mosquito on the level proven by the inexperienced arrow results in an unregulated consumption of blood. (Picture by Perran Ross, Ph.D.)

Though this analysis is prime to our understanding of blood feeding conduct in mosquitoes, the outcomes have hardly ever been repeated. So, whereas working my very own experiments involving blood-feeding mosquitoes, I tried to duplicate these findings utilizing a easy process.

Feminine Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (solely females feed on blood) had been immobilized by putting them within the fridge for an hour. Then, beneath a dissecting microscope, I used a pair of forceps to pin the mosquito down on its facet and a second pair to pinch the stomach (pictured above), crushing the ventral nerve twine. The following day, I let the mosquitoes feed on my arm, as we do routinely in our laboratory. After which the magic occurred.

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Warning: Graphic content material. Mosquitoes present process a easy operation are unable to sense when they’re full, ingesting blood till they burst. (Video by Perran Ross, Ph.D.)

The video above—which, be warned, will not be appropriate for these squeamish on the sight of blood—reveals among the extra dramatic outcomes of the operation. Mosquitoes drank far past their justifiable share of blood and had been rendered unable to fly and even stroll. Others went even additional, ingesting a lot that they ultimately burst. Typically, they’d proceed to feed lengthy after their stomach ruptured, unaware that what was stepping into was coming straight out the opposite finish.

Though the outcomes are dramatic, performing surgical procedure on particular person mosquitoes isn’t a sensible technique to management mosquito populations or cut back the incidence of mosquito-borne ailments. However this data of mosquito biology and their blood-feeding mechanisms may have many surprising purposes and encourage future analysis. For example, one group of researchers is exploring how mosquitoes discern between plant nectar and blood. And the invention that diet drugs can suppress mosquito appetite got here from easy curiosity. Though we in all probability don’t need blood from exploding mosquitoes raining down from the skies, typically it takes an absurd query for an necessary scientific breakthrough.

Perran Ross, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral analysis fellow within the Faculty of BioSciences on the College of Melbourne, Australia. He’s investigating methods to manage insect pest and illness vectors with endosymbiotic micro organism. Twitter: @MosWhisperer. Web site: E-mail:

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