Meet the Parasites That Suck Mosquitoes' Blood

Culicoid midges can hang onto hosts for days
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2014 7:29 AM CDT
Meet the Parasites That Suck Mosquitoes ' Blood
Mosquitoes have to deal with parasites, too.   (AP Photo/CDC, James Gathany)

Next time you're annoyed by a tenacious mosquito, you can take solace in the fact that it, too, has to deal with parasites who want to suck its blood. And, as Jennifer Frazer points out in Scientific American, the mosquito has no way of slapping the tiny creature known as a Culicoid midge. And while a mosquito bite doesn't last too long, the flying midges have been known to lock onto mosquitoes for days at a time: One bit its host for 56 hours. "The midge’s mouthparts seem designed to keep it securely harpooned to their new bestest friend whether they’re feeding, flying, or silently cursing evolution’s ironies," writes Frazer. As many as three have been seen on one host, reports Parasite of the Day. Worse yet: Scaled to human size, they're about the size of a dinner plate.

The midges were noted in 1922, but they haven't been studied much since then. Recently, however, some Chinese scientists caught one and filmed it, apparently through a microscope; viewers can see the creature hang onto a mosquito for three minutes before letting go. They live in a vast area including India, China, and southeast Asia, Frazer notes. But just because they torment our tormentors doesn't mean they're good news for humans. The midges also bite cattle directly, and they can carry a number of viruses, as can the mosquitoes they bite. (If you're sick of mosquitoes bothering you, you might try an anti-mosquito newspaper.)

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