Probing the void for blood

Words and video: Perran Ross

I recently filmed one of our mosquito colonies trying desperately to reach my arm through their enclosure. The video has been posted on Reddit by a third party and received enormous attention with over 4.5 million views in its first nine hours.

To make the video, I held my arm next to a cage of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that were ready to feed. They immediately probed with their proboscises (mouth parts), attempting to reach my skin in vain.

As we are not in the business of tormenting our research subjects, immediately after the video I satisfied their hunger by putting my arm inside the cage for their blood meal. I do this once a month to maintain the colonies in our lab, and even more when we do experiments. And yes, it does itch quite a bit.

In my six years working with mosquitoes, I have fed around half a million mosquitoes on my arms (and sometimes legs). This is roughly equivalent to a litre of blood—enough to produce some fifty million mosquito eggs. But don’t worry, these mosquitoes have never left the laboratory.

To find out more about our mosquito work please follow the tags in the sidebar