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We can see numerous veins under our skin. Why don't mosquitoes suck blood from those vessels?

Why don't they use better option?

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  • $\begingroup$ This is unclear. Where do you think mosquitos get their blood from? $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jul 30, 2017 at 12:08
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    $\begingroup$ Mosquitos suck blood from small capillaries. And they don't suck very much, only about 5 µl. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jul 30, 2017 at 12:23
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    $\begingroup$ The smart mosquitoes that have been through a phlebotomy course do go after the large veins closest to the surface. However, at times, they mistake an artery for a vein, and blow themselves up. It's a nasty affair. Most mosquitoes who've witnessed this just stick with dermal capillaries. $\endgroup$ Jul 30, 2017 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ Related: pbs.twimg.com/media/BF_Ua1xCAAAKMYf.jpg :) $\endgroup$
    – arboviral
    Jul 30, 2017 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps for the same reason that you can drink from a drinking fountain, but not a fire hose :-) $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jul 30, 2017 at 19:14

1 Answer 1

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For a mosquito, there is really no benefit to targeting those visible blood vessels. Mosquitoes take only a small amount of blood, and their proboscis is going to be a limiting factor anyways.

However, mosquitoes also aren't just blinding sticking their proboscis into the extracellular space. They actually do target individual vessels, and scientists have actually been able to video the process. Capillaries are good targets because they are found in all the tissues, so the mosquito doesn't need to find a surface vein.

See the videos with the original paper here: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0050464 (in the "Supporting information" section)

There are also versions on YouTube, like here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbXSPacvuak

Choumet, V., Attout, T., Chartier, L., Khun, H., Sautereau, J., Robbe-Vincent, A., ... & Bain, O. (2012). Visualizing non infectious and infectious Anopheles gambiae blood feedings in naive and saliva-immunized mice. PLoS One, 7(12), e50464.

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  • $\begingroup$ In the video , the mosquito is squeezing blood from capillaries so hard that capillary is collapsed, then why do you think that proboscis is a limiting factor? $\endgroup$
    – Test_1
    Jul 31, 2017 at 0:14

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