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Picky Mosquitoes

May 21, 2009

Not all mosquitoes are out for human blood.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Are mosquitoes picky eaters?…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A listener’s question about mosquitoes prompted one of our own. We were curious as to whether there are any mosquitoes that don’t bite humans. We consulted Dennis LaPointe, an ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Pacific Island Ecosystem Research Center in Hawaii. He says some types of mosquitoes don’t bite animals at all. They don’t need a blood meal to lay eggs. But most species do need blood and aren’t that picky about where it comes from.

DENNIS LAPOINTE (USGS):
In general, mosquitoes are not specific host feeders. Given, an available blood host they’ll take any blood they can get a hold of.

HIRSHON:
Still, LaPointe says that mosquitoes that feed at night seem to prefer birds, and those that feed during the day seem to prefer mammals. And of course, the various species that evolved alongside humans tend to target…us. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.