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Picture of the Day

Bursting with blood -- mosquito insights could yield biomedical applications

Mosquitoes may have a reputation for being one of the world's most intractable pests, but they're actually quite tiny and fragile. After anesthetizing mosquitoes with nitrogen gas, a team of researchers used nail polish to glue a single mosquito to the head of an insect pin, and then submerged its proboscis -- that long, straw-like appendage mosquitoes use for drinking -- into a sugar-based feeding solution. As the hungry insect sucked up the nectar, live synchrotron X-ray videos captured footage of everything that happened behind its opaque exoskeleton. These efforts not only yielded the discovery of a new mode of drinking in mosquitoes, but they could also answer a fundamental question of insect morphology: Why do some insects that drink liquid have two pumps in their heads, while others have only one? The new findings on the insect's feeding mechanisms and modalities could have larger implications for how scientists address mosquito-borne disease transmission in future research.

Visit Website | Image credit: Jake Socha/Virginia Tech Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics