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Start > Doctors > Listening > Articles > The dreaded mosquito Part 2

The adult is eventually fully formed after going through a pupal stage, with the males usually emerging earlier. These stay hovering over the surface of the water, mating taking pace soon afterwards as the females emerge. However, before she can lay viable eggs she will need to take a blood meal from a mammal or bird.

Mosquitoes are attracted to the host by a number of stimuli, particularly heat and exhaled carbon dioxide.

Having found a host she will settle and probe with her proboscis (piercing- organ) to locate a blood vessel, whereupon she will typically inject a small amount of anticoagulant saliva into the bite puncture to prevent the blood from clotting. It is the reaction of the host's antibodies to this attack which causes the redness, swelling and irritation at the site of the bite. In the tropics the female mosquito is without doubt the most important vector of disease, carrying malaria, filariasis, yellow fever, dengue fever and forms of encephalitis.

A number of these virus diseases can also occur in the cooler, temperate zones like Malta's, but in our case we are less at risk since we live on an island. It is only through their bloodsucking habits that disease can be spread by mosquitoes.

Teacher: Michael
Many articles taken from 'A word with the doctor', by Dr. John Windsor.


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