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You’ll Never Look At Them The Same: This Is What A Mosquito’s Mouthpiece Looking For A Blood Vessel Under Your Skin Looks Like

Squeamish? Please abstain. It’s not as gory or gross a video, as much as it is a disquieting perspective on just what exactly it is that goes on under the skin when a mosquito catches you distracted, and starts to feast. The stunning footage was grabbed by Valérie Choumet at Paris’s Institut Pasteur, where she anaesthetized a mouse, stuck a microscope against a flap of its skin and convinced a mosquito to bite in the right spot. What you see is the insect’s mouthparts probing around, looking for a blood vessel.

The large central needle in the video is actually two parallel tubes—the hypopharynx, which sends saliva down, and the labrum, which pumps blood back up. When a mosquito finds a host, these mouthparts probe around for a blood vessel. They often take several attempts, and a couple of minutes, to find one. And unexpectedly, around half of the ones that Choumet tested failed to do so. While they could all bite, it seemed that many suck at sucking.

We’ll include only this video in the article, but if you’re interested in just what is going on, you should follow the link at the bottom. It leads to a National Geographic article with tons more detail and a couple more vids.

[ National Geographic ]