How long does a mosquito take to land on a host, start its bite, end its bite and then fly off?

And what about different species?

I am most interested in human hosts.

References to web sites or books would be appreciated.

I cannot find this even after extensive trawling of Google.


That's an interesting question and not easy to answer. I haven't found data for humans but from experiments with mice. They analysed how the mosquito actually bites, probes for the blood vessels (not all bites are successful) and finally sucks bloods. In their research they observed feeding times between 150 and 329 seconds, depending on the size of the blood vessel. The mean feeding time was 240 seconds. It also depends on the age of the mosquito, older mosquitos suck longer. To this comes the time for probing (mean time 142 seconds) and the time before the mosquito starts probing after it landed (mean time 6.5 seconds). This totals to about 389 seconds (or roughly 6.5 minutes) total time after landing. This data can be found in table 1 of reference 2.

This is pretty interesting, they also show videos of the mosquito probing the skin for a blood vessel. You can find a pretty nice summary in the first reference and the original paper in the second:

  1. Here’s What Happens Inside You When a Mosquito Bites
  2. Visualizing Non Infectious and Infectious Anopheles gambiae Blood Feedings in Naive and Saliva-Immunized Mice.
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  • $\begingroup$ Table 1 from reference 2 above has additional data on the time to start of probing (mean time to start 6.5 seconds), probing duration (mean time 142 seconds) which I presume are before the feeding time (mean time about 240 seconds). The mosquitoes involved were Anopheles gambiae. It must be noted that this was in a controlled laboratory environment on mice, not humans, but the data is still a very good start. $\endgroup$ – finch Sep 17 '14 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ You are right. So this adds to the 240 seconds, coming in total to about 389 seconds. I know that this is in a laboratory environment but I haven't found any other serious data on this topic. $\endgroup$ – Chris Sep 17 '14 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ Nice finds Chris +1 $\endgroup$ – AliceD May 15 '15 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer +1. Having worked with mosquitoes during my undergrad, I can tell that it very much depend on the activity on the host though. A mosquito coming to bite you the night while you're partying with your friends outside might often just land and go away too afraid that we sensed its presence. But if you're sleeping (and if you're not moving during your sleep), then the mosquito may take longer. I haven't read the paper but those estimates seem to correspond to static hosts. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b May 15 '15 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ Btw, I've been told that bites when they have to hurry up hurt more than bites when they had time to suck, make sure to be completely fed and leave when they finished. But that might be a urban legend, I don't know. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b May 15 '15 at 21:21

Gillett studied the feeding behavior of Aedes africanus and Aedes aegypti, the abstract says that

They showed that while the period between salivary injection and the onset of irritation was the same in both species (ca. 3 min)

It seems to me that the abstract does not say whether the hosts were humans or not. Unfortunately I am not able to get the full paper.

GILLETT, J. D. Natural selection and feeding speed in a blood-sucking insect. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 1967, 167.1008: 316-329.

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  • $\begingroup$ This does not address the question $\endgroup$ – AliceD May 15 '15 at 4:56

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