Painless Proboscis

Mosquitos! What a pain! Or…are they?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Mosquitos are a familiar foe. They bite and leave behind itchy reminders of their presence. But how is it we never notice them sucking our blood until it’s too late?

At the Ohio State University, Bharat Bhushan investigates how these sneaky mosquitos go undetected. He hopes to mimic their technique and create a pain-free needle.

The official term for the mosquito’s blood-sucking needle is: proboscis [proh-BAH-sis], And it’s more than a small drinking straw with a big name. It’s got the four key components to stealthy blood sucking. A soft tip, vibration, serration, and a numbing sensation!

It starts with the soft tip for gentle entry into the skin. This is aided by serrated, saw-like edges to sneakily cut in. A light vibration means less force is needed to make the cut. All the while, a numbing agent is released before we know what’s what.

Reseachers believe these four properties can help unlock the next generation of painless needles. Imagine getting a shot without feeling a thing!

Just ignore that slight buzzing sound – and remember not to swat!