How Mosquitoes Obtain Blood through Feeding

Mosquitoes have long been notorious for their thirst for human blood. While theories abound about what drives this relentless pursuit, a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) sheds light on the underlying mechanism. Conducted on July 1, the study suggests a dual-hormone system that either activates or suppresses mosquitoes’ cravings for blood.

Key Findings

There are approximately 3,500 mosquito species worldwide, found across all continents except Antarctica. Females of these species feed on animal blood to facilitate egg development. Interestingly, after a blood meal, female mosquitoes lose their appetite for blood until they need to lay their eggs.

Entomologist Michael Strand from the University of Georgia explored the hormonal regulation behind this cycle. His research identified a mosquito gut hormone called F(NPF), whose levels spike when mosquitoes seek a host and decline sharply post-feeding.

Further analysis of mosquito enteroendocrine cells, responsible for hormone production, revealed that elevated F(NPF) levels coincide with increased attraction to hosts like humans. Remarkably, after blood ingestion, mosquitoes lose interest in human blood but regain it after laying eggs, influenced by another gut hormone, RYamide. This hormone operates inversely to F(NPF), surging as F(NPF) diminishes.


The discovery holds promise for developing new pesticide strategies to curb mosquito reproduction and prevent disease transmission. According to Zhen Zou from the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Zoology in Beijing, targeting these hormones could offer effective new avenues in mosquito control.

Mosquitoes, as vectors for diseases such as malaria, dengue, Zika, and others, pose significant public health risks globally. With climate change expanding mosquito habitats, understanding their feeding behavior at a molecular level becomes increasingly crucial in disease prevention efforts.

By shedding light on the hormonal basis of mosquitoes’ blood-seeking behavior, this study paves the way for more targeted and effective interventions to mitigate the threats posed by these ubiquitous insects.

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