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Inside the Bite

 Aedes aegypti mosquito
This mosquito (Aedes aegypti) is just starting to feed on a person’s arm.

ARS entomologist Elaine Backus is improving our understanding of how mosquitoes feed. Using a technique known as electropenetrography (EPG), Backus attaches an electrode to both a human host and a mosquito. When the mosquito bites, a circuit forms, allowing researchers to measure all kinds of information about the bite, from how long it lasts and what the stages are to differences between male and female mosquitoes’ bites.

Although the technique was originally developed to examine how pests feed on crop plants, Backus and her colleagues expanded it to understand blood-sucking insects, including mosquitoes, ticks, and more. They hope that their research will aid in the fight against the negative effects of mosquito bites, from itchy irritation to disease transmission. Watch this video to learn more about their work.