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Cowardly Mosquitoes

October 20, 2005

When is a mosquito not a bloodsucker? Science reporter Bob Hirshon has the answer.


The mosquito’s better half. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

As a mosquito magnet, I was surprised recently when a mosquito in my house seemed to be avoiding me, rather than going for my jugular. I started to wonder whether it’s possible to tell male mosquitoes, that don’t bite, from female mosquitoes, that do. University of Florida medical entomologist Jonathan Day had the answer.

JONATHAN DAY (University of Florida):
You bet! Male mosquitoes are very easy to tell. They have very large, feathered antannae. They are very obvious even to a casual observer.

Which my mosquito didn’t. The explanation? Day says female mosquitos feed only twelve hours a day, and avoid hosts the rest of the day. If you have a science question, don’t avoid it! Call us at 1-800-why-isit. If we use your question, you’ll win a Science Update mug.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.