Qs from Kids: Do Mosquitoes Bite Each Other?

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This blog is part of a series “Kids’ Questions Answered,” where we consult the experts to find the best answers possible to children’s confounding queries.

Question: Do mosquitoes bite other mosquitoes? (from Jonathan, almost 5 years old )

Answer: Adult mosquitoes don’t. Some mosquito larvae, though, will not only bite each other, they’ll eat each other.

“Unfortunately, adult, female mosquitoes save their biting habits for you and I,” said Joseph Conlon, an entomologist and technical advisor to the Mosquito Control Association.

Conlon says there are a couple of mosquito species whose larvae eat each other. One is Psorophora ciliate, the so-called gallinipper. This jumbo-sized mosquito, native to Michigan, is experiencing a bumper year in Florida this summer thanks to heavy rains.

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Conlon said: “They lay their eggs in temporary puddles and when the larvae emerge they play ‘king of the puddle’ and consume other mosquito larvae (and each other if they’re unfortunate).”

Another species whose young are known to eat each other are Toxorhynchites rutilis. This species breeds in treeholes, and its young are cannibalistic, feeding on other mosquito larvae unfortunate enough to hatch out in the same treehole.

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Just a side note about this mosquito — it’s the only known mosquito that won’t bite us (or other animals) to suck our blood.

The makers of “Jurassic Park” earned scorn among entomologists when they featured this mosquito as the one preserved in a block of amber. Scientists in the movie supposedly extracted blood from the mosquito, but in truth, this mosquito would never have contained any blood.

Photo: iStockPhoto