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Adult male mosquito

Spike Walker

Adult male mosquito

Download this image from Wellcome Collection.

This Photomicrograph of a mosquito from the Culex genus. This image shows the whole body of an adult male. The sample is from a microscope slide created in the middle of the 20th century.

Why won't this one make you itch?

When an insect such as a mosquito bites, it injects saliva that stops the blood clotting, giving itself a free flow of blood to feed on. Our bodies produce a chemical called histamine in reaction to the saliva. Histamine causes inflammation and itching. The mosquito in this micrograph does not feed on blood, however, because it is male. Only female mosquitoes need to feed on blood, because they need protein to make eggs. Male mosquitoes feed only on the nectar in plants, and so will never bite humans.

What diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes?

This particular mosquito does not transmit disease, although some Culex mosquitoes are the vectors of major diseases such as West Nile virus and Japanese encephalitis. Anopheles mosquitoes, the cousins of Culex mosquitoes, transmit the deadly disease malaria. Malaria kills up to three million people every year, and is one of the major focuses of the Wellcome Trust's work. Over the last ten years, the Trust has funded £150 million of research on malaria. Visit the Trust's Malaria website for more information.