A common house mosquito proboscis tip (Culex sp.). The proboscis contains six parts: two pairs of sharp, flexible cutters (serrated "blades" and sharp tipped "knives") surrounding a pair of fine tubes - one for sucking up blood, the other for dripping a chemical into the wound that keeps the blood flowing. In the United States, Culex pipiens is the primary carrier of the West Nile virus. Culex pipiens becomes infected by biting certain birds carrying virus and in turn transmits it to humans where it can cause encephalitis and meningitis.

Image and text copyright © Dennis Kunkel. All rights reserved.

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