Mosquitoes possess distinct characteristics that aid in their identification. Their bodies are divided into three main segments: the head, thorax, and abdomen. The head houses its sensory organs, including compound eyes, antennae, and a proboscis used for feeding. Meanwhile, the thorax is where the wings and legs are attached, enabling their swift and agile flight.
When it comes to identifying specific mosquito species, it's crucial to pay attention to subtle differences. Anopheles, Aedes, and Culex are among the most common mosquito genera encountered globally. Anopheles mosquitoes can be distinguished by their palps (sensory organs found near the proboscis), which are elongated and about as long as their proboscis. Aedes mosquitoes, responsible for transmitting diseases such as dengue and Zika, possess a distinctive black-and-white pattern on their legs. Culex mosquitoes, carriers of West Nile virus, usually have a more uniform appearance, with dark-coloured bodies and narrow, elongated wings.
Based on this information, how can you identify a malaria-carrying mosquito? Entomologists may be the experts, but you can also tell Anophelines apart from other mosquito species using the three Ps: