Many species of mosquitoes have bloodsucking females.

When they bite a host, do they need to pump? Or does the sheer blood pressure combined with capillary action suffice to make the blood rush into the mosquito's stomach? If the blood pressure is enough, can the mosquito "explode" or simply die from having too much blood rushing in?


1 Answer 1


Take a look at Ramasubramanian et al.[1] The authors have some great SEM images of the proboscis and fascicle tip and derive a mathematical model for the "bite" itself.

They mention that there are two types of feeding: pool feeding, where the mosquito creates a hemmorrhage and feeds slowly via capillary action, and capillary feeding, wherein the mosquito taps into a capillary and the feeding process is much faster, as the blood is driven under pressure.

Another source to check, one that the authors above cite, is by Kashin[2]. This only links to the abstract, however. You'd have to hit the stacks to get the article, I'd imagine.


This source[3] indicates that:

"The blood is imbibed by action of the cibarial and pharyngeal pump muscles via the food canal formed by the labrum and hypopharynx. Blood then passes into the midgut."

For @Luke, and others:

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All images are from Ramasubramanian et al.[1]

  1. Ramasubramanian MK, Barham OM, Swaminathan V. 2008. Mechanics of a mosquito bite with applications to microneedle design. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 3: 046001, doi:10.1088/1748-3182/3/4/046001.
  2. Kashin P. 1966. Electronic recording of the mosquito bite. Journal of Insect Physiology, 12(3): 281-286, doi:10.1016/0022-1910(66)90143-0.
  3. Robert V, Brey PT. 1998. Biting physiology of Anopholes affecting Plasmodium transmission. Research and Reviews in Parasitology, 58 (3-4): 203-208.
  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer. Any chance you could include the SEM image for those you do not have access to that journal? Sounds worth seeing! Thanks $\endgroup$
    – Luke
    Aug 21, 2012 at 10:50
  • $\begingroup$ BTW, it appears that mosquitoes really can drink themselves to death, if you somehow prevent them from knowing they are full (e.g. by crushing their ventral nerve cord): entomologytoday.org/2020/03/19/… $\endgroup$
    – Kal
    Mar 7, 2021 at 16:50

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