Mosquito ecology and mosquito disease vectors - image is an illustration with the title "All About Mosquitoes" that shows a mosquito laying eggs, another biting someone, and insecticide being sprayed.

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Exoskeleton: hard body covering... more

Thorax: in general the part of the body between the neck and waist in humans and the central part of an insects body where the legs and wings are attached... more

Mosquito Anatomy

Before we jump into detailed anatomy, let's look at five main characteristics of mosquitoes:

  • They have a hard outer shell called an exoskeleton.
  • They have three main body parts: head, thorax, abdomen.
  • They have a pair of antennae that are attached to their head.
  • They have three pairs of legs used for walking.
  • They have one pair of wings used for flying.

You can use the illustrations below to explore the anatomy of the mosquito, both what you can see from the outside and also the parts of the mosquito located inside.

An image of external anatomy of mosquitoes

Labeled illustration of the external anatomy of a mosquito. Image modified from LadyofHats via Wikimedia Commons.

  

Looking at the Outside of an Adult Mosquito

HeadLocation of the eyes and brain, and where the antennae attach.
ProboscisTube-like mouth part used to suck up fluids. In females, this is strong enough that it can pierce skin.
AntennaMovable segmented feather-like feeler that detects chemicals like carbon dioxide and air currents.
PalpA sensory organ that can detect odors and can feel objects.
Compound EyeEyes made of many light detectors called ommatidia.
OcciputThe back of the head.
ThoraxMidsection where the (6) legs and (2) wings attach.
AntepronotumA protective plate that sits on top of the front of the thorax.
ScutumThe large front section of the thorax.
ScutellumThe middle section of the thorax.
PostnotumThe end of the thorax, which also holds the septum that separates the thorax and the abdomen.
HalterAn organ that helps mosquitoes to steer while they fly.
AbdomenThe hind part of the mosquito, where most of digestion, eliminating waste, and reproduction occurs.
Abdominal segmentsSections of the abdomen. Each segment has a top and a bottom that are separated, allowing the abdomen to expand with a meal or with eggs.
Cercus A projection from the end of the abdomen that is involved in mating and in egg-laying.
Tarsomeres Moveable parts of the end of the leg.
TarsusThe last segment of the leg and what touches the walking surface.
TibiaFourth segment of an insect leg; the tibia of the hind leg holds the pollen basket, where pollen is carried.
FemurThird segment of an insect leg.
ForelegLeg located closest to the head.
Mid LegLeg located between the foreleg and hind leg.
Hind LegLeg farthest from the head. 
WingFlat projections from the body that are used in flying. 
Longitudinal VeinsThickenings in the wing that lie along the long axis of the wing.
CrossveinsThickenings in the wing that lie along the short axis of the wing.
External anatomy of a larva

Labeled illustration of the external anatomy of a mosquito larva. Image modified from LadyofHats via Wikimedia Commons.

Looking at the Outside of a Mosquito Larva

HeadLocation of the eyes and brain, and where the antennae attach.
EyeLarvae have fairly simple eyes called ocelli that sense light.
Head hairBits of hair near the front of the face. Hairs are used for sensing.
Mental plate A protective plate on the top of the head.
AntennaMovable segmented feather-like feeler that detects chemicals like carbon dioxide and air currents. 
Mouth brush A collection of hairs around the mouth that help with moving water and filter feeding.
Antenna hair Hair on the antennae that help with sensing under water.
ThoraxMidsection where the (6) legs and (2) wings will later attach.
AbdomenThe hind part of the mosquito, where most of digestion, eliminating waste, and reproduction occurs.
Abdominal segmentsSections of the abdomen. Each segment has a top and a bottom that are separated, allowing the abdomen to expand with a meal.
Lateral hairLonger bits of hair on the sides of the thorax and abdomen. Hairs are used for sensing.
Caudal hairPaired long hairs near the end of the abdomen. Hairs are used for sensing.
Ventral tuftPaired thin hair tufts near the end of the abdomen. Hairs are used for sensing.
SiphonA breathing tube that larval mosquitoes use; it uses water tension at the surface to attach there.
Spiracular valvesValves that can close off the end of the siphon, so it does not take on water.
CombA patch of small spine-like scales near the end of the abdomen.
Anal segmentThe last segment on the abdomen.
Anal brushA collection of hairs at the rear of the abdomen. Hairs are used for sensing.
Anal gillsSpecial organs that absorb water and that are also involved in absorbing oxygen sometimes.
PectenA thin row of spine-like scales along the sides of the siphon.
SaddleA plate that helps protect the anal segment.
Dorsal brushA collection of hairs attached to the anal segment. Hairs are used for sensing.
The internal anatomy of an adult mosquito

Labeled illustration of the internal anatomy of a female mosquito. Illustration by Karolina Mikołajczyk.

Looking at the Inside of an Adult Female Mosquito

ProboscisTube-like mouth part used to suck up fluids. In females, this is strong enough that it can pierce skin.
Salivary glands

Glands that make saliva. When saliva enters a mosquito bite, it helps make blood flow from the host, it numbs the skin, and it may pass along parasites, viruses, or bacteria that cause disease.

Dorsal diverticulumA pouch in the anterior portion of the digestive system that is involved in sugar digestion.
Anterior midgut junctionA part of the anterior digestive system that helps meals to be processed in the correct part of the system.
CropA sac that stores sugary meals like nectar.
StomachA part of the posterior digestive system. Blood meals are sent directly to the stomach to be digested.
OvariesA part of the reproductive system, where eggs develop and are stored.
Malpighian tubuleAn organ involved in the regulation of body water and hydration, as well as in getting rid of waste.
AnusThe end of the digestive tract, where wastes are removed from the body.
The internal anatomy of a larval mosquito

Labeled illustration of the internal anatomy of a mosquito larva. Illustration by Karolina Mikołajczyk.

Looking at the Inside of a Larval Mosquito

HeadLocation of the eyes and brain, and where the antennae attach.
Thorax

Midsection where the (6) legs and (2) wings will later attach.

ProventriculusA muscular pouch that helps grind food before it reaches the midgut.
CaecaSmall projections in the digestive system that increase surface area to release special proteins or to absorb nutrients or water.
AbdomenThe hind part of the mosquito, where most of digestion, eliminating waste, and reproduction occurs.
Mid gutThe first site of digestion, the midgut makes most of the enzymes used in the digestive process.
Tracheal trunksOrgans used in breathing. In adults, these usually connect to the outside through spiracles. In aquatic larvae, they connect to the siphon.
Malpighian tubuleAn organ involved in the regulation of body water and hydration, as well as getting rid of waste.
Ventral brushA collection of hairs at the rear of the abdomen. Hairs are used for sensing.
Anal gillsSpecial organs that absorb water and that are also involved in absorbing oxygen sometimes.
Respiratory siphonA breathing tube that larval mosquitoes use; it uses water tension at the surface to attach there.
Spiracular valvesValves that can close off the end of the siphon, so it does not take on water.

View Citation

You may need to edit author's name to meet the style formats, which are in most cases "Last name, First name."

Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Mosquito Anatomy
  • Author(s): Brook Jensen, Sergio Serrato-Arroyo
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: October 27, 2023
  • Date accessed: April 12, 2024
  • Link: https://askabiologist.asu.edu/mosquito-anatomy

APA Style

Brook Jensen, Sergio Serrato-Arroyo. (2023, October 27). Mosquito Anatomy. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved April 12, 2024 from https://askabiologist.asu.edu/mosquito-anatomy

American Psychological Association. For more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/

Chicago Manual of Style

Brook Jensen, Sergio Serrato-Arroyo. "Mosquito Anatomy". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 27 October, 2023. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/mosquito-anatomy

MLA 2017 Style

Brook Jensen, Sergio Serrato-Arroyo. "Mosquito Anatomy". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 27 Oct 2023. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 12 Apr 2024. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/mosquito-anatomy

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/

In this close-up image of a female Aedes aegypti, you can see different parts of the proboscis. The thin, needle-like section of the proboscis is the fascicle. The outer covering, which bends and pulls away from the needle when the needle is inserted, is called the labium. 

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