Bubbles propogating in proboscis of a live mosquito

I have a love and hate relationship with mosquitoes. They have been called a Winged Scourged and have a devastating effect on our society; for thousands of years. If you are interested in watching; here is a link to a beautiful 1943 “classic” commissioned by the US government who asked “Walt Disney” to make a film on mosquitoes. It’s an incredible short film; and probably the most depressing film Disney might have made. See here..

Anyway; since you already knew mosquitoes are bad – why don’t we pay more attention to them. I have a habit of catching mosquitoes wherever I am. I grew up with mosquitoes; have had several fights with malaria and have had swarms of mosquitoes every time I was out playing in the field. As a kid I never paid attention; and just went by my business (of playing). But now I pay attention; I catch them and put them in my foldscope to speciate them. And I love live imaging; so I try to catch the living rhythm of mosquitoes under my Foldscope in hopes to striking key insights into the physiology of what Mr. Wat Disney would call “Public enemy number one”

My last post talked about blood flow inside the wings of a live mosquito. This time I will show you what a mosquito proboscis looks like. But as always, I have a surprise for you.

Firstly, I was able to image a proboscis in a live mosquito in my first try.
1) I caught a live mosquito. This was done with a coffee cup and fast hands. A little bit of liquid in the cup made the mosquito stick to the walls while it was alive. Good luck.
2) I mounted the mosquito immediately; and imaged it right away.
3) The proboscis unfolded and I could see a very clear view of the inside even with the covering sheath.



To my surprise; I did see tiny air bubbles (I assume that is air) moving inside the proboscis. It seems like the contact angle is higher than 90; so it must be hard to pump these bubbles out. But it seems from the videos they are transported and presumably flushed out. Watch the corresponding videos.

Also; I was able to image the actual tip of the proboscis which had a hollow pore right at the tip. This was very exciting to see; since the proboscis is very active during feeding.

Enjoy a short video here:

and a long version of the video here:

What other mysteries are mosquitoes hiding.. to be continued.


1. I reviewed a paper several years ago on the mechanics of butterfly feeding. It’s fascinating to see some parallels; specially watch this Xray video which describes the flow of nectar inside the proboscis with a lot of air engulfed in the same.

Full paper can be found here: http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/9/69/720

One Comment Add yours

  1. laksiyer says:

    Wow. @Manu this is very instructive. The view of the tip of the proboscis is a masterpiece. I need to catch some live mosquitoes.

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