How can mosquitoes poke through the skin with their thin snouts? And how do they suck our blood?
Under normal circumstances, mosquitoes feed on plant sugar solutions, but when the females produce eggs, they need a more nutritious meal: human or animal blood.
The mosquito extracts blood from blood vessels in the dermis, and in order to get there it must first pass through the epidermis.
For that she has an advanced muzzle, which forms a kind of extension of the mouth parts. This snout consists of a tube with a bundle of so-called stilts of kitine in it. The stylets are hollow, just like injection needles.
To get this stylet bundle through the skin, force the mosquito by pushing its head and shaking, one of the stylets cutting into the skin.
When the muzzle has passed through the epidermis, the sensory cells will feel at the end if there is a blood vessel from which the mosquito can suck the blood. Before she stings, the mosquito secretes saliva, preventing the blood from clotting.
The blood is sucked with the help of muscle pumps in the head and throat of the mosquito. They create a negative pressure in relation to the tip of the muzzle, so that the blood flows up to the digestive system.
When the mosquito has sucked up some blood, she pulls back her snout and flies to a place where she can digest her meal in peace.
With most females, the development of eggs starts after just one meal of blood. The number of eggs depends on the size of the meal, but as a rule a female mosquito lays 50 to 200 eggs at a time.
Developed snout sucks up the blood
A mosquito snout consists of a tube with a bundle of hollow stylets, one of which is very sharp. This cuts through the skin and pulls the others along.
The mosquito places its snout with stylets on the skin. If the stylet bundle penetrates the skin, the tube itself does not last; it remains on the skin and bends further as the stylets penetrate.
Sensory cells at the tip of the stylet bundle register when a blood vessel comes. Immediately thereafter, the mosquito secretes saliva, preventing blood from clotting.
With the muscle pumps in the head and throat, the mosquito creates underpressure in the muzzle; this way she can suck up the blood quickly and easily.