Mosquito Mouthparts

diagram of mosquito mouthpartsphoto of biting mosquito

Mosquitoes have mouthparts which are used for piercing and sucking. The paired mandibles and maxillae are formed into needle-like structures (stylets) which are enclosed by the labium. When a mosquito 'bites', the pointed and barbed pair of maxillae penetrate the dermal tissue of the vertebrate to anchor the mouthparts in the tissue. This also provides leverage when the other mouthparts are inserted. The sheath-like labium slides back and the remaining mouthparts pass through its tip and into the tissue. The mosquito injects saliva, which contains anticoagulants, into the tissue to stop the blood from clotting. The labrum acts like a tongue and is used to suck up the blood.

Mosquito photograph ©